Jun 2, 2015
by Maggie McCann
Mashika was just a teenager when she was chosen as the king's sixth wife. It was not acceptable in her culture to say no and she was scared. Mashika worked in secret with a missionary to flee South Africa and was granted a visa to work in the mid-west as a nanny. After arriving in the U.S., she met her future husband. His charm enticed her to keep in touch by responding to his calls and letters. After more than a year of long-distance communication, he asked her to join him in Virginia.
Leaving her friends and support systems behind, Mashika braved the move and was excited to start the next chapter of her life. As soon as she arrived, her soon-to-be husband began to pressure Mashika into marrying him, saying that his religion didn't allow them to live together without marriage. She reluctantly agreed and soon after became pregnant.
Before long, she found out that the charismatic man she fell in love with had a history of incarceration and that her image of the nice, loving person was false. He had been dishonest about his past and seemed to have hidden his true character, but now that they were married with a child on the way he assumed it was too late for Mashika to leave the relationship. The verbal abuse, controlling behavior and manipulation escalated to extreme violence. Faced with threats of deportation and the loss of her baby, she believed she had no choice but to stay in the relationship.
Over two years, she saved what money she could until the day she fled to Tucson with her son. She called the Emerge! hotline and ultimately came to our emergency shelter. She felt relieved to be surrounded by people who understood what she had been through. Mashika enrolled in the Emerge! Housing Program for assistance establishing a safe home.
Her son, now seven, recently won an award for academic excellence. Mashika is employed and will graduate with a degree in Public Administration next May.