Abuse was the only language I understand
For many years Mantwa believed that abuse was a normal thing because that was how her mother communicated with her at home.
She later became abusive towards other children at school.
"My mother would beat me up for every minor mistake I made as a child. She used anything within her reach to throw at me or beat me with, including steel and wire. I felt she treated me differently from my other two siblings because they barely received hidings. I sometimes went to school with scars and bruises from her beatings. My mother refused to meet my teachers each time they asked to speak to her. Instead she would beat me up even more for telling the teachers about the abuse at home. Her treatment made me abusive to other children around me," she said.
Mantwa dropped out of school when she was in grade 10 and moved in with her boyfriend.
"The abuse continued as he also abused me physically and emotionally because he knew I had nowhere else to go. After months of staying together I became pregnant with my first-born. I continued living with him because I was afraid to start a new life as I did not know what to expect out there. I later could not stand his abusive behaviour and I left him when my child was five years old," said Mantwa.
She dated another man who also abused her.
“My second boyfriend ill-treated me and he left me at home and moved to Johannesburg after I became pregnant with his child. He did not communicate with me or send me money. I decided to follow him to Johannesburg. He was mad when I arrived with the children but we ended up staying there. We were both unemployed and we survived on the child support grant for my two children. He sometimes beat me up for refusing to give him the bank card I used to get the grant money. That same year, I became pregnant with a third child. He continued beating me up while I was pregnant,” she said.
In 2015, I met members of the Universal Church who invited me to attend services after they saw the bruises on my face.
"I took part in several chains of prayers and soon found strength to leave my abusive boyfriend. After less than a month in the church, my mother called me and apologised for ill-treating me. She also asked me to take my children to her so I could look for a job. I accepted her apology because I was tired of harbouring pain and grudges. I also understood that I was giving the two men who abused me a hold over my life by not forgiving them. I then decided to forgive and set myself free from all the bitterness. My three children now live with my mother while I live in Johannesburg, looking for work. I trust that God will bless me with a good job. My relationship with my mother has blossomed. God gave me the love I never had as a child. I found inner healing and now know how to communicate with others without using violence," she said.