Besides her boyfriend’s accusations, Grace’s failure to bear him a third child was another issue that created tension between the couple.
As time continued and the beatings got worse, life became unbearable and Grace decided to visit her father to tell him what was going on and ask for his advice. Upon her return her boyfriend was furious that she had shared the ‘family issue’. He grabbed her, beat her severely, and forced her to have sex, after which he inserted objects into her that caused profuse bleeding.
A neighbour heard what was going on and finally intervened, saving Grace’s life. The incident was reported and Grace was taken to hospital where she spent the next six weeks. Her boyfriend was arrested and put in a police cell. When Grace was able to come out of hospital and walk again, the case went to court after six months. At first the court tried to set Grace’s boyfriend free knowing that she would never be able to fight the case; she didn’t have the financial means nor did she have contacts with important people. However, by this time Grace knew a local church that had received training from EQUIP Liberia, a faith-based health and social welfare NGO, and had sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) focal people – church members trained in SGBV issues who ran a church-based response program.
The church’s focal people, together with EQUIP staff, provided support for Grace: advocacy at court level, financial support for the court hearings and witnesses’ transport, as well as counselling and psycho-social support for Grace. At times Grace felt like giving up and letting the court ruling go by, but the church workers kept encouraging her to seek justice. Finally on September 17, 2015 the court reached a verdict and Grace’s boyfriend was sentenced to six years in prison.
Grace rejoiced that justice had been served to her but her life has not become any easier. Because her boyfriend is in prison she has no means of earning any money. Her children did not start school this year as she can’t afford the school fees.
Her father has come to live with her to support her, but she continues to suffer physically. Her back is very painful and she can only walk slowly. She can sit down but can’t get on a motorbike because of bumps on the road that would hurt her. She continues to bleed and has been told she needs a repair operation for which she has no money.