DiepCity! actress Nozuko Ncayiyane on leaving an abusive relationship: "I was tired of crying everyday"

It is something that's been at the forefront of everyone's mind in South Africa. Every time a woman goes missing or a child ends up dead in a ditch, it is again propelled to the top of the news cycle, till something else comes up again. 

The fight against gender based violence continues everyday in SA. 

Now more than ever, women are speaking out and sharing their own experiences in a bid to help and give courage to other women to leave a toxic and abusive relationships.

DiepCity! actress Nozuko Ncayiyane is another woman who recently spoke out about the abuse she witnessed from a young age – hoping to aid other women.

Nozuko said that it was important for her to share her story, as she strongly believes that is her job as an actress.

“I really felt that I needed to be honest, share my story, and speak out because my job is about sharing and expressing myself. So, if there is something that I think might help someone, then I should share it.”

She explains that by sharing her painful past, she's open to being able to recognize real love, develop new and healthier patterns, and to help other women leave toxic relationships.

“For a very long time I didn’t know what love was, I used to describe love as pain. So, even when I was in a relationship or in spaces that caused me so much pain, I couldn’t say this can’t be love, love shouldn’t hurt, whether it be physically, emotionally, or mentally, because for me love was pain.”

The actress watched her stepdad(s) beat up her mother and says she fell straight into the same pattern as soon as she started dating.

“As a child, when you witness your mother being abused, you don’t really comprehend how wrong it is," Nozuko explains.

“They would beat my mom to a pulp; in such a way that I couldn’t even recognise her, but there was nothing much I could do or say. So, I would just cry alone in my corner. 

"Also, as black kids, we are taught that your parents' issues have nothing to do with you.”

And years later when Nozuko started dating in her late teenage years, she found herself being in an abusive relationship, just like her mother.

“When I was 19-years old, I dated an older guy who was 26 years and he was very abusive. I remember the first slap from my first love, I never questioned it nor told anyone about it. My second love was even worse. He was emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive,” says Nozuko.

The star says it was only when she found herself in these abusive relationships that she started to understand how growing up in an abusive home impacted her.

“It all started making sense to me now as an adult and I was like oh my word this is the result of what I went through.”

She only started dealing with the trauma as an adult, she says. 

“I had to face my childhood trauma. I had long forgotten certain things that happened to my mom. And that is only because I kept them out of my memory.”

In 2019, after being in an abusive relationship for 3-years, Nozuko finally decided she had had enough, and she left.

What gave her the courage to leave that relationship? The day her ex tried to hurt her face. She knew it was time for her to leave him.

“A lot had happened. A lot of incidents had happened building up to that, but it was mostly the physical abuse.”

“Being an actress, when someone hurts your face it's like what are you trying to achieve because I work with this face. I remember looking at myself in the mirror as he had scratched my face and I was like 'girl you need to leave him'.

“So, it was definitely the pain, the scars, and my friends telling me that this was not a healthy relationship.

Nozuko says the abuse had gone on for years.

“We stayed together as well and at times he would chase me away and I had no place to sleep. And when that used to happen I would tell myself that I needed to sort my life out."

One day she decided enough was enough.

“There is no particular incident that had pushed me to leave, but it had been coming for a very long time and one day I just found the courage to leave and never go back again.

“It’s all those things that pushed me to value myself and love myself again. And I was tired of crying every day.”

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