I AM AN EMPOWERED,
FRIDA HARTLEY LIBERATED ME!
My journey with Frida Hartley in overcoming domestic abuse in my marriage;
“Love liberates “ Dr Angelou Maya
My first few days at Frida Hartley I learned about Frida Hartley through a referral of non profit organization that also advocates against women and children abuse. When I first came for screening interview I was quite disturbed with the surroundings because it appeared to be a place filled with so much crime, murder & violence. It felt like I was getting deeper to the violence I was trying to escape. I wondered if ever I will manage to stay there however Frida Hartley Shelter was the opposite of the surrounds. When I entered the gates I felt so much at home. You could feel the unconditional love on the wall. I felt safe in the hands of Cheryl. I received counselling and I felt restored. I didn’t realize then that I had embarked on a journey of self healing and forgiveness.
Living at Frida Hartley
My stay at Frida Hartley was nothing but safe haven. I have a lot of memories and all of them are special to me. I remember how the strangers had become sisters to me. I hold the memories of children running to me and giving me a hug on the first day when I arrived with my bags. Not only did I receive emotional support, spiritual encouragement, accommodation and food but I got empowered day in and day out. My top three highlights was learning defence technique moves, acquiring Google digital skills certificate and attending the first Total Shutdown: Intersectional Womxn’s Movement Against GBV. I am grateful for these experiences because I have had to learn the things that I didn’t know before and now that I know better, Frida has elevated my human being confidence and I continue to do my best in life.
Life after Frida Hartley
On my last days at Frida Hartley Shelter I had to ask permission to leave and I was granted allowance with love. I will not forget the words of my manager Cheryl when she said to me “ I am always a phone call away if you need help”. That to me meant that she was freeing me go out try and if I fail I should know that I will not be homeless. I chose love and forgiveness approach over the abuse I had encountered. I changed my mindset as I was receiving care at shelter to continue with my marriage and focus on developing the positive attributes of my husband instead of carrying bitter and toxic memories. Frida Hartley was a turning point to me in terms of advocating justice and forgiveness. In the same words as the late Dr Angelou Maya “I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now, and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates”. I am still committed to loving my husband. I still pledge to cherish and honour him regardless of circumstances in the pressures of the present and uncertainties of the future. Sure, I’d prefer a little less pressure and more certainty in the next decades but come what may, I have confidence we can tackle it together.
Now that I have left Frida Hartley I would encourage the board of directors to consider stretching support towards men who are showing willingness to become better human in the society. Although I would not encourage anyone including myself to stay in abusive relationship I am sharing my testimony for someone to take what I have written with just a pinch of a salt because statistics does still show an increased number of women in South Africa who do not survive in these kinds abusive relationships. If I could give someone advice about staying in a shelter to escape abusive partner I would love to share with you my piece of food for thoughts which a person could use in calculating their forward decision:
1. Forgive yourself for the things you didn't know and that you had no control over. Blaming yourself for being abused will hinder your mental growth and progress to heal while the opponent is moving on in life.
2. Seek professional help and equip yourself with knowledge from non profit organizations or government services if you do not have financial means. If you are ashamed to admit your temporary circumstances and solve them by seeking speaking out, the Glory of the Lord will not reach you. Sometimes you need to apply spiritual law to attract good things in your life. The universe is waiting for you to call the shots. So girl, speak out don’t be afraid. Nobody has the right to treat you badly.
3. Learn to rest, relax and recharge. There is a saying which says ‘Sometimes making progress, means taking rest days.’ A human body and mind is unable to perform best if it’s drained and empty. One of the effective ways of recharging is by simply going to nearest church that your soul can relate to, engaging in woman empowerment sessions, exercising and eating healthy. Consider living temporarily in an environment that is relaxed and quiet to help you discover your heart. When trying to escape abusive relationship It is very important to make a self calculated decision after absorbing all the information you have, so that you do not blame anyone if outcomes do not turn out as expected.
4. Do not ignore the signs of abuse when you see them. Act vehemently in supporting your partner to receive stress and anger management counselling. Study shows that the manhood issues sometimes appear in the middle age of a man and if this can be identified at early stages you might overcome the situation. If you are devoted in seeing your partner becoming better, go with him to the consultations of self help to educate yourself too, forgive and love him/her more. Any form of a relationship is like a garden that needs to be watered in order to grow beautiful.
5. Lastly, I am not an expert of giving love relationship advice; I can only speak from what I have been through. After finding myself in marriage I still learn from my mentors guidance, I am still in touch with the friends I have met at Frida Hartley Shelter and I hope one day I will have the opportunity to unfold my story to encourage the women at shelter or to even give back and grow sustainable shelter for women by women. In conclusion Frida Hartley Shelter gave me a space to apply my mind cautiously. The end of the story was me choosing to love as the most powerful weapon to heal and transform. As a result, I am grateful because love has created a miracle outcome for me. FRIDA HARTLEY LIBERATED me, and here is a common poem shared by Dr Angelou Maya that I would love to share with intentions of encouraging someone who is in the process of making a decision in whatever situation they are facing in their lives. I also dedicate the powerful words of this quote to Cheryl Hlabane who deserves to be honoured for doing what God has put her to do:
"I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn't just hold—that's ego. Love liberates. It doesn't bind. Love says, 'I love you. I love you if you're in China. I love you if you're across town. I love you if you're in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I'd like to have your arms around me. I'd like to hear your voice in my ear. But that's not possible now, so I love you. Go.'" — Dr. Maya Angelou
Frida Hartley Shelter gave me a safe place for me to not be okay, lick my wounds, pick myself up and try this life thing again. When I arrived I literally felt like I was carrying pieces of my broken life, and I was in tears wondering how I would put them all together. Instead of helping me put my broken pieces together Frida firstly gave me a safe haven where it was okay not to be okay. She never put pressure on me to be okay and leave which is what we are normally subjected to when we are going through the most and are dependent on the ones we love to support us, and instead of helping me put my broken pieces together Frida gave me a new vision, a new dream, a new life which before Frida I didn’t even think was a life I wanted for myself.
I was hand held and supported by phenomenal woman whom I shared the house with, by women and men who were complete strangers who came in to meet Frida Hartley woman and share offerings and words of encouragement. I learned new skills soft skills, technical skills and most importantly life skills/lessons, I learned to love myself, be patient with myself and forgive myself for not being okay.
All of these lessons would have never been possible if it wasn’t for FHS. Cheryl (manager) went the extra mile and made sure I was provided for, made sure I was up skilled and I was okay. I will forever be grateful for the journey and I am glad I was at Frida Hartley Shelter for destitute women.
My life transitioned from a Relationship Manager, to unemployed & insolvent to being an Intern at an advertising company and now i am due for a promotion to a Client Service Manager( this would not be possible if it was not for FHS) . Whats next you ask? Sky is the limit. Life has been a journey, and still continues to be a journey.
I want to thank the Frida Hartley Shelter for rebuilding me. When I moved in I didn't think I'd be where I am today. My self-esteem was low, I didn't believe I deserved good things in my life. Frida Hartley Shelter doesn't only offer food to eat, toiletries and shelter. It also offers emotional support through different kinds of therapy of which I am grateful for because I realize I needed to heal for God to promote me. I now have a job and a side hustle and all thanks to the support we consistently received.
I am strong, I am motivated,
I am not my past, I am powerful. As Cheryl Hlabane would say, wake up and pick yourself together and "Let's go f#@*& shit up", that is my motto.
In 2014, Mmabatho Konyane (originally from Zeerust in the Limpopo Province) was living with her boyfriend, the father of her six-month-old baby when he was brutally murdered. Jobless, and without support for her and her unborn child, she was given two months by her landlord to make a plan, or end up homeless. In January 2015, Frida Hartley was able to offer shelter, and the service of their internal creche while Mmabatho attended skills training. Until August 2015, Mmabatho attended Khulisa training through Taste Holdings. The training program starts with a five-day intensive workshop called Changing Lanes. It provides candidates with tools for the intellectual, moral and emotional skills that they will need once employed. According to Mmabatho, the Changing Lanes programme helped her to look at her life positively, and approach the working world with the right attitude.“The training helped me a lot. It helped me to heal.” The workshop is followed by a 5-week period of intensive additional training which benefits students in both the short and long term, to find work in the hospitality industry. This is significant because Hospitality is the second largest employment sector in South Africa.
Mmbabatho now works at Pizza Hut, where she operates in various capacities as a pizza maker, cashier, floor manager and stock monitor. She dreams of becoming a GM, or to work at head-office in the future. In her spare time, she loves to read, and spend time with children. She always wears a smile, and no matter what has befallen her, she has remained determined not to be a victim of her circumstances. Through hard work and determination, she has become able to support her and her daughter independently.
Mmbabatho is a glowing example of the dignity and personal growth that we foster and encourage at Frida Hartley.