16 Days of Activism Against GBV Campaign-Surviving from an Abusive Husband

Chisomo is a 51-year-old woman who has been in a hostile environment due to the husband’s emotional and sexual abuse. She lives with her husband and their 2 children: Peter (14) and Martha (15) and grandchildren Jane (7) and Sara (5). Chisomo, her husband and their two children are all living with HIV. When they were initially enrolled into LLOVC project in October 2019, they all had high HIV viral loads; Martha 4,481 copies (in June 2019) Peter 1,806 copies (in December 2019) and Chisomo 3,955 copies (2019).

“I told my Case Care Worker (CCW), Trinitas Matemba, during one of her home visits that we face emotional, sexual and verbal abuse in the household. My husband would insult me and children and tell us he did not care whether we live or die. He used to force me to have unprotected sex even when he knew he had not been adhering to medication and had missed several appointments. We could go days without having a meal although sometimes once a day, this also affected our adherence to medication. Peter once attempted suicide because he was tired of taking medication without food and also because his father said he didn’t care whether he lived or died,” lamented Chisomo.

Chisomo family selling their merchandise

In addition to providing adherence counselling support and closely monitoring to ensure that they do not miss clinic appointments, the CCW connected the family to community support groups for more emotional and psychological support.

Through the support group and support from our Case Care Worker, I have seen change in my husband such that I have peace in my home now.  Martha and Peter were linked to Kankodola Y+ group to receive psychosocial support from peers living with the virus. Unlike in the past where my children would miss school, my children rarely miss school these days due to improvement in health and the education support we got from Lilongwe OVC project,” explained Chisomo.

Through SILC group Chisomo started a business of selling tomatoes, and other food stuff. She is now able to afford 3 meals for the household and pay for emergency and transport costs for medical attention. Most importantly, Viral load for Chisomo and Peter have all been suppressed and Peters recent viral load result is 298 copies as of 18 June 2020. Chisomo’s VL result is recorded LDL in the same month of June 2020. Martha’s Viral load result is LDL is 1,298 pending another test in December, 2020. . After adherence counselling and other sessions on GBV and Child protection Chisomo reported that her husband has also been adhering to medication and is no longer abusive. The family appears to be healthier and happier.