Chapter 6 – “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of…”

After I approached the pastor, he came for dinner the following night. In trying to explain to the pastor what I am dealing with, being married to this man, I said that my mother is not even allowed to visit me or her grandchildren since our youngest child’s birth. This father replied, “Your mother is not allowed to visit, because she called me a pedophile.” I was shocked and asked, “What?”

This father continued, saying that it happened in 2008 when the eldest child was 8 months old and we were visiting in my mother’s apartment. He said the child laid on his chest. The child pinched his nose and he pinched the child’s bottom, and the child pinched his nose and he pinched his bottom. In this version he told me my mother walked into the room and called him a pedophile.

Numerous data problems arose with this husband’s story.

My mother visited us several times between 2008 and 2010. He even contributed towards her tickets. Welcomed her. He contacted her as well, regularly and voluntary, during these years. There was no animosity between them.

I witnessed him telling my mother, after our youngest child’s birth in 2010, that she is not welcome anymore. Then, according to him, it was because she had lied to him about me having started smoking again and confronted him in his own house. My mother did confront him. She said because he constantly made sly demeaning remarks about me. She told him he behaved bullish in the house, that he had a split personality and was just outwardly charming. I witnessed how he coldly and repeatedly said to my mother, “Goodbye mother, goodbye,” whenever she tried to speak to him after this.

I wondered if a child of 8-9 months is capable of the pinching-joking interaction this husband was describing? I had not experienced it, but then I never pinched my children anywhere or at any age.

Immediately I also made a connection to something this husband had told me roughly two years before we were married. He told me two people were spreading a rumour about him, saying that he likes little boys. I asked, “Why would someone say something like that?” He replied that they were trying to discredit him and they wanted his job. I asked him what job he had? He replied he was flying in an African country. Putting his comments in the context of pedophilia it now made perfect sense.

I did not voice my thoughts that night in the presence of the pastor and decided to first speak to my mother. I waited for this husband to leave on one of his work trips. I phoned my mother, starting the conversation saying, “This man is saying you called him a pedophile? He said it was when our first child was around 8 months old.”
I hoped she would have no idea what I was saying and was waiting for her to ask me what am I talking about. She said, “He is lying. I did not call him a pedophile. I asked him what he is doing?” This shocked me. She even remembered the exact date, saying she had written it down. In my mother’s version of events this happened when our eldest child was approximately two years old. He was lying on his back on a bed next to his father and this father had his hand in the child’s diaper in front.
When she had passed the room before this incident, the child was sleeping on his stomach and was alone in the room. She was feeding the second child, then around 5 months old, banana in her room and wanted to ask this father something. She heard him going into the bedroom where the child was sleeping. When she went into the room, she saw him lying on his side next to the child at the foot of the bed. The child was apparently still sleeping, but was lying on his back now, with this father’s hand in the front of his diaper. She said she was shocked and asked this father what he was doing? She then turned around and went to the living room. This father left the child and followed her to the living room. She said to him, “You know what I was thinking. Is it true?” He said, “No mother.” He talked of pinching then too. My mother said we went out for dinner that night and this child slept between me and this father on the bunk we sat on. This father concentrated on rubbing the child’s stomach and had pulled the child’s shirt up for this. She said his actions disturbed her even further.

I confronted this father on Skype with my mother’s information, saying that his and her information differ and then I asked him what is going on?
This father’s immediate response on my question was that he was going to sue both my mother and me for accusing him of molestation.
Once again there were several problems with this father’s response.
I had only asked him what was going on and was not making accusations. He voiced no denial or explanation of my mother’s words. He showed no understanding that I would feel upset by this information, which would be a natural response. He himself had brought up the subject and now he appeared to be out to attacking me and my mother? If his reaction is like this towards me asking questions, then he must have sued the people that spread the rumour of him liking little boys.
Not knowing if he did, I asked him if he sued these two people who had spread the rumour as well. He said no, he did not sue them. He confronted them and they denied spreading it. This meant he heard via someone else they were saying this. This person would be a witness to them having said it. So why did he not sue when he had a witness?
If he was, as he is claiming, upset with his reputation being ruined, the creation of a bad impression of him and the loss of work, then why is he himself, years afterwards, still spreading this very rumour?
Nobody confronted this man, questioned him or had any knowledge about rumours of him liking little boys or being called a pedophile. This is until this father “reveals” it, so to speak.

I asked this father who the two people are that had said he likes boys? And did they get his job, because as far as I know that is not how you apply for a job? He gave two names, but omitted saying if they obtained his job. In which case they needed to have told his employer or have spread this rumour in his work place.

I started wondering about the strange behaviour of the children that I could not place and understand. About things I had seen that had made me frown.
Our second child’s tantrums? Severe, angry, screaming tantrums, that lasted for hours. Anything triggered them. When you put him into the car, he would scream to get out, once out he screamed to get in. When you gave him food, he would push it away and start screaming, giving the impression he did not want it. If you took the plate away he screamed to have it again. When I gave the plate to him, he pushed it away again. It would carry on and on. When you had to bathe him, he screamed. When you dressed him, he screamed. When you undressed him, he screamed. When I left, he screamed. Even if I did not have another banana for him, he started screaming in a tantrum. No matter how I tried explaining, it did not help. You could not get through to him while he was having these tantrums. He would be beside himself. The severe screaming tantrums started when he was about 10 months old.

The first day I took this child to attend the creche, someone from the creche phoned me about an hour after I had left, saying the child is ill and I must come to fetch him. I had expected this call. This child had screamed himself into a stupor. I placed this child into the creche for two mornings a week, with his elder brother, so he could adjust before his brother had to leave the creche for school. Being with his brother did not seem to comfort this child. I persevered and kept taking the child, but after several months the caregiver at the creche called me aside. She told me that he screams and wants to be picked up. When they pick him up, he screams to be put down. I knew what she was talking about, as the same was happening at home. She then said it was as if he does not know what he wants and is confused and she suspects he is autistic. In trying to console me she said many intelligent people are autistic. This child was around twenty-two months old at the time.

When I discussed this with this father, his response and advice was that I am not hitting the child hard enough. He said if I hit him hard enough, he will never do it again. But the child displayed no behaviour deserving of a hiding. I just could not rationally understand the child’s behaviour. He was at times screaming over small, normal, everyday occurrences. It was as if this child went through phases where he would be fine and then again started acting up over nothing. This father’s mother told me all her children screamed in this manner. That their other grand children also screamed in this manner and that it will stop. I thought maybe because this child was a middle child he felt unloved and not special. I started telling him he is my “pokkel”. When this father was at home and I called the child this nickname, he would ask the child repeatedly: “Are you mommy’s or daddy’s pokkel.” When the child said he was my pokkel, this father would pull a face and say: “No, you are daddy’s pokkel,” repeatedly. I stopped calling the child this, because I did not care for the position this father was placing his child.

Then this child went through a phase where he took his excretion and rubbed it over the walls, the bed, himself and pressed it into toys. He did this for close to 6 months around two years of age.

I wanted to take the child to a psychologist several times. When I discussed this with this father, he would say all they were going to do, is to give him medication.
To diagnose him with a mental illness and keep him under sedation with psychiatric medicine so to speak at his age felt severe to me. Being a naturalist, I also prefer homeopathic medicine and home remedies.

This same tantrum child, as a toddler, also had a strange looking anus. It would be swollen and red. I changed the child’s diaper one day on the bed in the main bedroom and must have frowned, while looking at the child’s anus. This father was also in the room and said, “This child has a big anus.” I replied, “Yes, I see,” thinking that the child’s anus appears big, red and puffy. This child also had a lot of stomach pains. He was constipated and his tummy was bloated. His whole body was very tense and tight for a child of his age. I used to massage his tummy and stretch his leg muscles, because I noticed with the way he moved that his leg muscles must be tight.

When I was about 6 months pregnant with the third child, this father insisted on moving the other children to one of the bedrooms on the ground floor. I had concerns with this. There were stairs. This second child was about 15months old and woke up in a tantrum early in the morning around 02:00. He would just start screaming. It would last for an hour, until he fell asleep again. Nothing could calm him down. This was also when he would push me away, while screaming, and then hold out his arms for me, but when I want to pick him up he’ll push me away again continually screaming.
After this father had moved the children downstairs, he then went to this screaming child when he was at home. He stayed away for hours. I asked him once why he stayed downstairs so long, and he said he stays with the child until he is asleep again. He said he was doing me a favour, since I was pregnant and so I can rest. Then I was very grateful for this “kindness and help”.

I had difficulty when potty training this second child’s bowl movements. He soiled his pants up to three years old. He would be sitting playing and just soil himself. He himself would be upset. I asked the preschool teacher for advice. This child had to start attending this school and could only attend if he was potty trained. The teacher said all children are different.

Also once whilst potty training this second child, I noticed the water in the toilet had a red colour around his excretion. This father was home at the time. I was upset and went to this father, telling him about this and asking could it be blood? His calm reply was that the child had eaten something. It is not blood.

When this second child started speaking, he woke up in the mornings, saying there was an elephant or lion by his bed at night. He made me take all the stuffed animals out of the room before he would go to bed at night. Later, the stuffed toys taken out of the room, was also not good enough and he wanted them out of the house. I moved all the stuffed animals into the apartment upstairs. This child continued saying there was a lion or an elephant by his bed at night.

The eldest child went through a phase where he switched on lights in the house in the middle of the night. I would wake up, switch them off, check on the children sleeping and wake up again later, with the house lights burning again. On occasion this eldest child came to the bedroom after having switched on the lights. He just stood next to the bed. He did not speak.

The children also had strange behaviour when they were in the shower. The one would lie flat on his belly while the other tried pushing something into the lying child’s anus. This happened several times.

I started having difficulty changing the youngest child’s diaper. He said, “Aiwa,” (this father’s word for sore) squeezing his legs shut and pushed my hands away. The child had no nappy rash and I could not see any reason for him to say something was sore.
The eldest child went through a phase where he stuck his tongue out when I wanted to kiss him good night. I told him every time that it is not how one kisses he must keep his mouth closed and his tongue inside his mouth.
One night this father wanted to kiss this eldest child good night. The child pinched this father’s mouth shut with his hand and then kissed him far back on his cheek.

All these incidents and behaviour of the children were now concerning me. I started doing research on the internet. The information on tantrums and, what they referred to as smearing of excretion, are signs of a traumatised child that cannot speak yet. This could be signals of sexual abuse. The advice was not to punish a child acting out in this way. That young children are not able to voice/express themselves or their distress. The website suggested traumatised children needed stimulation, where they can make a mess and feel safe to express themselves. They needed time, love, attention and understanding. There was also advice not to prod or pressure a traumatised child into speaking, but just to give love and wait for the child to speak in his own time.

My children could be traumatised children and I had been responding to and treating the second child’s behaviour inaccurately.
When this second child smeared his excretion, I had thought of having to clean up the whole afternoon. Of having to wash the room to try to get rid of the smell that seemed to hover for days. I would punish him and put him in a bath while I cleaned up. At night when I put him to bed, I felt bad about being cross and told him I loved him, no matter what he did and how naughty he is.

I also got cross when he threw his tantrums and would tell him to stop screaming, because he is driving me mad. Eventually I ignored him when he screamed and would just remove things that could be broken in his anger. Someone also gave me the advice to throw cold water over him or to put him in a cold shower when he threw a tantrum. At the time I had looked up this advice on the internet. It was there and I tried this. It did not work, and now I cannot believe I had tried this advice.

With all these new happenings, I decided I was going to treat my children as traumatised children. The next tantrum the second child had, I did not tell him to stop screaming, I did not get cross and I did not ignore him. He was sitting on the floor, screaming. I watched this child and realised he was not stubborn or hardheaded. He was sad, angry and upset. I told him I love him so very much. He stopped screaming and said, “No, you don’t.” I said yes I do love you.
I started telling him about when he was born. How happy I was to have him. How I held him the first time. How he made soft gentle whimpering noises, but did not cry. The child came and sat on my lap. I told him how old he was when he sat upright, crawled, spoke his first words and his mannerisms. I told him he is a beautiful child and sometimes I don’t understand what he is trying to do or what he wants. During this conversation I told him that no one is allowed to touch his body and private parts. It is his. He did not reply.
I also told this to the eldest child on a different occasion and he also did not reply. The youngest child was twenty-one months old at that time and still too small to understand me.

I processed all the information in my head concerning the possibility of the children being molested. It was as if my head was saying yes and my heart kept denying it. I still left the children alone with this father. He still took them on outings. On one outing, he said he wanted to take the second child to the Christmas market. It was around 17 December 2011. When they came back the child did not compare to an exited child who had just been at a Christmas market and had had all the attention of his father. He was not throwing a tantrum, but he looked cross and upset. I asked the child what is wrong and he said he did not like the people. This father had a big smile on his face and asked the child, “Didn’t you like the chocolate? Didn’t you like the chocolate?” The child said no and walked off. This made me frown. Thinking it is odd, I know my second child adores chocolate.

There was another incident later in December 2011 that disturbed me. I was in my room downstairs one morning when I heard the second child throwing one of his tantrums upstairs. I followed the screaming and found this child, without pants on, sitting on his father’s bed with this father standing next to him. The steam shower was switched on, which meant this father was preparing to shower.
(I then remembered one incident where I was leaving to go shopping in the afternoon and this husband was preparing the shower for him and the second child. This very child had also asked me not to go shopping.)
I went and sat next to the child on the bed. This father, in his cold voice, told me to get out. I said no, and he repeated, “Out!” I again said no. Then he said, “It looks like I need to tighten the bolts on you.” He then relayed his story of how disobedient this child was. His reason was again trivial. I asked him if he was done, picked up the child and walked out of the room. He followed us and was picking a fight with me, saying I undermine his authority. I told him to go and shower on his own. He looked shocked and went back to his room. I took the child back to the living room where the other children were playing. The eldest child said to me his brother did nothing wrong. Their father said he should look at him when he is talking. The child did not. The father gave the child a hiding and then took him to his bedroom.

This father never spoke normally to me again after saying “he is called a pedophile”. His angry, deep, cold voice was permanent now, even over Skype. It was as if he went from the one thing he deemed I did wrong to the next.
He was away more than usual, approximately 3/4 of the time, which was a blessing. When he was at home he recorded everything I say. (He walked around holding his phone in front of him.) At night I would hear him listening to his recordings. I got the impression he was trying to get me to say certain words. For example, he would approach me, saying I had called him a pedophile and he has this on tape and he is going to sue me. He did this several times. I kept on wondering why, if he had it on tape, as he is saying, is he still recording me? Why isn’t he then just using it, as he is threatening to do?
He told me I said my father is a self confessed pedophile and he had this on tape, when I know I had said self confessed alcoholic. I told him to go and listen to his recordings again. He said my mother is a pedophile. He saw her touching the eldest child on his penis. During these conversations he would be recording.

If I mentioned or asked on what my mother had seen, he would at once start threatening, saying he was going to sue both my mother and me.
He took pictures of the children’s room or the house when untidy or of the paper cuts after the children played with their pattern scissors or of me smoking outside, or the children if they had a bump on their heads.
In the presence of the children, he would tell me he wants to get rid of me.

This man’s behaviour scared me. His actions and demeanour were aggressive. He was completely dismissing my worries and fears. One day I told him he is scaring me with his reactions. He continued this behaviour irrespective. His behaviour was not that of an innocent man. The reality of that was scaring me.

He locked me out of the house at 00:30 one night. I went outside for a cigarette. When I tried to open the front door with my key it did not want to open. I could see him through the glass door, standing on the inside. I told him if he does not open the door, I am going to call the police, and I tried to open the door again. He went away from the door, came back and fiddled around the door handle. Then he opened the door. This husband had put the key in the lock inside and tied the key with a cable tie to the door handle. This prevented the door from being opened from the outside. The key broke in the lock when I turned the handle. This was what he was fiddling with: removing evidence. And of course: He told me that I had broken the key.

This man did not, at any time during our marriage, do anything in the house that I could depend on for help on a regular basis, except he offered to change the children’s diapers. But, from December 2011 he did nothing, also not offering to change diapers. This did not bother me.
I got the impression he was trying to pressurise me.
He became more secretive. He stayed in his bedroom, listening to the recordings he had made of me. Before the incident where he said my mother called him a pedophile, he used to sit at the dining room table with his computer, reading all the news and phoning friends of his.
He did not tell me when he would be leaving on his work trips, where he is going or when he is coming back. When I did ask on occasion, he told me it had nothing to do with me. When he did arrive back from a trip, he would sneak up the stairs or ring the door bell. Then he would jump out from whatever hiding place he was using, screaming hello.
He ordered me to start writing down all the money I spent and have receipts or else he did not want to “refund” it. Certain things he did not want to refund, for example, if I had bought myself a coffee at a coffee shop. I started using the credit card more and he made me lower the credit limit, with threats of withdrawing himself from “us” financially if I do not do as he orders. I presumed it was part of the tightening the bolts on me plan he had, but obliged anyway.

There was no behaviour at any point from this man that I could connect to that of an innocent, caring or compassionate man. It was useless trying to pretend and wait in the hope of something different. I needed help.

I contacted the pastor and, saying this husband’s behaviour is scaring me, I asked for a phone number of a place to help. In a meeting with us the pastor gave this husband the number of an organisation to help, and told us he wants us to go together. The pastor also told me to be obedient to this husband, him being the head of the house.
I waited and after about a month, I asked this husband when we will be going? His reply to me was, “I had already gone to see them. You can go if you want to.”
I went to this place and discussed the second child’s strange behaviour, being careful with what I was saying, because this father was threatening to sue me. Wanting their opinion I put the option of autism, as the creche teacher had thought, to them. This was an option. However, to me this did not explain this father’s extreme behaviour and actions.

This pastor contacted a child psychologist for information and told me that this psychologist said it is highly unlikely that a father would molest his own children. None of them were living under this husband’s constant attacks, after he, himself says that people are calling him a pedophile.

Initially, when this husband had mentioned the word pedophile, I did research on the internet. I looked at pedophile tactics and mannerisms. Manipulation, control, intimidation, emotionlessness and compulsive lying were all said to be characteristics of pedophiles.
I did get the idea that it was expected of me to maintain this father’s discipline and control over the children when he was away. That was why he got so cross with me if I did not do as he was ordering. There had to be a reason for it.

I recanted this father’s behaviour, which I did not understand and which bothered me at the time. When the children were small he expected me to reprimand them. If I questioned this, asking why he does not reprimand them, he would say, “You want to make me the bad guy.” I had realised you can turn this husband’s accusations and insults around and apply it to him. This meant that he was making me the bad guy. However, now the children were bigger and he was punishing the older children. To me, this “discipline” resembled baseless blaming, unfounded accusations, excessive control, threats and, if you lock a child (three years old) in a dark garage, as I had seen him do, abuse. When I confronted this father on his actions he said the child deserved this treatment, because he did not obey him in his order to come into the house. This did not warrant his reaction. But making a victim feel they deserve or wanted abuse creates crippling fear and guilt in the victim. This is then used by the abuser for control.

I gave the children more space as human beings, for example, watching TV, while eating. The father forbade this for the children. I had seen the father himself eat in front of the TV and he allowed guests to eat on his couch. His rules only applied to us.
I started making a point of looking at the children as far as possible when they were speaking, so they would know I am paying attention to what they are saying.

I allowed the children to choose for themselves within boundaries.
I always suggested we do things, like go to a play park or picnicking or feeding the birds, but I had never asked them what they would like to do out of the ordinary.
They wanted to ride on the train at night. Over a weekend one night, I dressed them up warmly and we took the train into the city after supper.
For the next outing the children wanted to walk in the woods at night. I negotiated and they agreed to drive with the car through the woods and I gave them torches to shine out of the windows with.

I reasoned my actions and their requests out with: If it is not going to harm or hurt them or someone else in long or short term then it rationally does not serve to enforce it. For example, my second child never wanted to sleep in the afternoon and I would get annoyed and tell him he has no option. He has to sleep, and I would put him in his bed repeatedly. I still put him to bed now, but if he had not fallen asleep, I did not enforce it and continually tell him to sleep. This father was continually telling me what I should do and it made me feel helpless.

I used a wooden spoon on their bums for punishment, never liking the fear I saw in the children’s eyes when they saw the wooden spoon.
I felt uncomfortable with using something to punish the children with. I discussed this with the pastor and he said that they had a wooden spoon behind every door. My brother said it is advocated to use something impersonal to punish a child with. Another problem I had with using the spoon was that one could not gauge how much pain the child was feeling.
I decided to use my hand for punishment, so I could feel their hurt. This father had lengthy angry periods and blaming which compared to torture. Wanting nothing to resemble this I gave a short warning, with the reason, and then, if the child continued, a rap on the bum with my hand. Making sure the child realises after this that it is over and forgiven. I only punish for telling lies and intentionally hurting another sibling. I tried to continuously keep in mind how I would feel if I was in their shoes. After a while of this, I noticed that the warning and explanation of what I would like was more than enough.
Asking them that I would like them to do something and giving an explanation attached that would be evidence of care and love towards them as a person gave wonderful results. This husband with his ordering, using the words “you must”, made me feel helpless and worthless and I was not even a small, dependant child.

There was a reason behind why this husband made my life more difficult, uncomfortable and busier than it should be. The impression he gave was if I am better, made less mistakes and did more, then he would show me love. This never happened, which meant it was fake. I started doing internet shopping and making more instant food. Before, I ran around shopping in my available time and every night cooked lengthy meals. I started varying this to have more time for the children. I still kept the children’s fruit the same.

When the children asked for help with something, I at once tried to help or give whatever they asked, as long as it was reasonable. For example, before, if I was cooking, I would tell the child he needs to wait until I am done. I now instead switched off the plate and noticed that those few minutes made the difference between my child feeling valued or unvalued.

Their father did not want any pets. The children asked for a pet and I had “adopted” the neighbour’s dog for this reason. The children walked him and took him bones. Now I bought the children hamsters. They were small and manageable and could serve as a distraction and teach the children care for a living creature. They drove loads of hamster food to the hamsters with their play tractors.

All 3 children had always gotten bottles with tea. I never gave them choices of what they wanted to drink and I now gave them choices.
I started making them ice-cream cones after dinner and had a tin of various cookies and sweets for them to choose from. I kept these in the kitchen. (This father’s sweets in his bedroom cupboard and on the bookshelves where the children watch DVDs worried me in that it is not the normal place for sweets.)

A game I did start was true or false. I would make a comment and they would have to look for themselves and say, if what I had said, was true or false. Because of this father’s “teachings” I explained that a thing can be damaged, but, not feel hurt. Only a human can. True or false?
I always did comfort the children when they got hurt. But, now I emphasised and reconfirmed their feelings, for example, when they got hurt I said, “Yes, mommy believes you feel hurt. You feel right.” This I did because of the “no you don’t feel hurt, stop crying, you did not get hurt” attitude from this father, and his family, when the children cried.
I told the children I am very happy and satisfied with them. That sometimes I am not happy with certain things that they do, but that will not change the fact that I love them.
I kept their eating, sleeping and bathing routines exactly the same. The children responded wonderfully to the new framework.

One Saturday, my second child was complaining of stomach ache and I put him in the main bedroom bed and gave him a hot water bottle. This father had just left the previous afternoon. The Sunday the child was worse, lying with his legs pulled up, saying his stomach was very sore. He had a fever and I could not straighten his legs or he would complain. Scared that it was his appendix, I asked the neighbour to watch the other children and I took the child to the emergency at the hospital. The doctor said the child had pneumonia. He had mild flu symptoms. All of us did. I kept the children home and took all of us to our house doctor and bought homeopathic medicine, with which everyone got well quickly, including the child with pneumonia, who was up and running.
The children and I also had diarrhoea and this second child could not make it to the toilet in time. He got very upset with this. I told this father over Skype I was taking the child to the doctor. His response was that the child was just too lazy to pinch. The day we needed to go to the doctor this child refused to go. I had noticed that he had extreme reactions and screamed himself in a tantrum when the doctor approached him for examination.

One afternoon the eldest two children were watching a DVD at the computer, sitting on their big pouf cushion. The smallest child was taking his afternoon nap. I went down to the washroom to put laundry in the washing machine. When I came back up the stairs into the living area the computer was switched off and the children were not there and neither was the cushion. I walked around the wall that divided the living area.The children had pulled the cushion in behind this wall. They had taken off all their clothes. The eldest child sat upright on this cushion with his legs open. The second child laid between his legs. The lying child was wriggling his body like a worm, while touching the eldest child on his penis. When the eldest child saw me his face was shocked. The second child stopped his actions, but showed no reaction. I told them what they are doing, is wrong. The eldest child replied, “It is?” The second child’s response was, “I like it.” I told them, while dressing them, that this is not behaviour for children. That if grown-ups touch children in that way, they are ill. The children did not respond.

This husband, who came home for short periods of time, and I had more meetings with the pastor. During one meeting the pastor asked this husband about himself and how he saw God in his life. This husband sat back in his chair and put his arm over the back of the chair next to him. Then he said, “So what of God. I got here on my own.” This, to me, translated, meant: He acknowledges God’s existence, but he does not follow Him. The day we got married this man had stood with me in front of God and made a vow. He did not then say, “So what of God?”

I had found another bank statement in the mail, addressed to my company. I asked the pastor to be a witness and he agreed. In front of the pastor I then told this man to change this name on the bank account. He had the same stories of how he can use any company name. It did not matter. I told him he had until the next day to change it, otherwise I was going to go to the bank myself. The following day he told me he changed it to his brother’s company name.

The second child started coming up to the living area at night and would sit talking to me. I got the impression he wanted attention. I would give him a moment to talk or just let him sit next to me and then, after a while, take him back to bed. On one of these nights, while I was busy on the computer, this child came up and started his talk with “When I go to Jesus…” I asked him what he meant and he repeated: “When I go to Jesus.” The first thing that entered my mind was that if you go to Jesus, you die. I remembered when this child had said that Jesus speaks to him, but he is not going to speak to Him. I asked him if Jesus had shown him heaven. “Yes,” he replied, “the sun shines brightly there.” I asked him if there are trees and grass. He said yes. I realised I had no idea what heaven looked like and my questions were futile.
I took the child to bed and started praying. I did not know what was happening around me. But everything seemed abnormal.
A few days had passed. This second child was playing in the bathroom with the hamsters and I went to him. I asked him if Jesus had told him how he was going to go to Him. He replied: “The house is going to burn.” He turned to me and asked, “Is it sore when you burn?” I did not know how to answer this, so I kept quiet.
I then remembered that several months ago he had asked me questions on a house burning. If the whole house is gone. He would ask me if a house that had burned down, can be built again. I tried to teach him the street name where we live and he would say no, we live by the big fire.
This child now said, “The angel that takes care of me is named Jacob.” I wrecked my brain, trying to think if I had ever told him of an angel Jacob, but could not think of any Bible story, except for the one where Jacob saw the angels on the ladder, but I could not remember if I had read this to them. I asked this child if he was going on his own. He continued playing and replied yes. It did not look as if this was bothering him. I asked him if it did not bother him going on his own? No, he said, and carried on playing.

I had a recurring dream that the house was burning. With every dream I wondered where the fire came from. The passage between my room and the eldest two children’s room is burning and I cannot get past. I take the smallest child outside. There are a lot of people around the house. They are just looking at me without helping. I wonder how they heard of the fire so quickly. I look through the children’s bedroom window, seeing the eldest two children’s beds are burning. In my dream I beat the window to try to break it. Fireman try to stop me.
I woke up, very upset and sad.
Another recurring dream that I had years ago, had come true. At that time I dismissed the co-incidence. Now it troubled me.

This child continued talking of the house that is going to burn, saying everything is going to burn. I made no reply to this. One night when it was bedtime this child did not want to go to bed, repeatedly saying we have to leave the house. Jesus says it is going to burn. He was upset and I could see he was scaring the other children. He was scaring me as well. I figured it was weekend and there would be no harm in sleeping out. I would also not be ignoring this child. This father was away. He was not on Skype and I could also not get hold of him on his cell phones. I presumed he was piloting an aircraft. I phoned the pastor and told him we are going to spend the night at the hostel, if someone is looking for us. I also told him the child is saying the house is going to burn and I cannot calm him down.
At some point during this, the child said his father is going to be afraid of the fire and run away.
This child kept on repeating, “Mommy, phone the fire-brigade. The house is burning.” I told him I cannot, because the house is not burning. But he kept on saying it, even when we drove away from the house. I turned the car around, drove back to the house and told him to look at the house. It is not burning. I drove to the hostel with this child, saying I must phone the fire-brigade. In between he would ask, “Why are they not coming?” The last thing he said was, “It is ok, the sun is shining again,” and fell asleep. When we arrived at the youth hostel, where I had booked a room for us, the other two children, who were sleeping, woke up and played around. This second child was sleeping like a log.

The next morning we ate breakfast and the children played in the playground, before we went back home. Once again this second child did not want to go into the house. He kept on saying the house is burning and we have to leave. I opened the garage door and told him to just walk in and look. There is no fire. He refused. Two neighbours were talking on the sidewalk. I went to them and said I have a problem. The child does not want to go into the house. He says the house is burning. The one neighbour suggested buying fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.
This seemed a brilliant idea. I told the children of the plan and we left to buy three, two litre sized fire extinguishers and four alarms. I explained to the children how the alarms would work and sound and showed them how the extinguishers would spray when pressed. I explained how this would kill any fire. The children were now excited and wanted to keep the extinguishers with them. I allowed the eldest two children to have the two (with the pins still in) to calm things down.

A stock take of my circumstances would be: I was married to a man that spread rumours of himself preferring little boys. Knowledge of my emotional abuse in my marital experience, meaning this husband’s capacity for lies, control and manipulation. The children’s behaviour and physical signs pointing at sexual abuse. This husband’s revelation of my mother witnessing inappropriate behaviour of him with the one child, almost three years after it occurred. This husband’s behaviour that had turned to severe attack and secrecy mode. This husband giving the impression of not serving God, but acknowledging God’s existence. A three year old, saying Jesus speaks to him. He is going to Him as a result of a burning house, wanting me to phone the fire-brigade, but the house is not on fire.
Remembering the book of the Christian author, I wrote to her and told her most of what is going on in an attempt to see if someone can shed light on these happenings for me. I did not receive a reply.

When emptying the paper recycling dustbin in the house, I found a box for Zovirax salve. Internet information described it as herpes medication. No one in our house had herpes as far as I knew. But, the smallest child had a strange spot-like rash around his anus for about a week already. It did not go away with the nappy rash ointment this father was meticulously buying in another country. This nappy rash ointment was very good and took away any redness in a day. I decided to make an appointment with my gynaecologist. He spoke and understood English well and would understand what I was saying. I figured he would also know more of sexually transmitted diseases. I phoned him and explained my problem to him. He agreed to look at the child’s rash. I made an appointment.