Af­ter ten years of abuse, di­vorced mom on a jour­ney to a bet­ter place

Stabroek News Sunday - - WEKEEND MAGAZINE -

T“I wanted to die, .... I re­mem­ber one time go­ing to the har­bour bridge at about three one morn­ing with every in­ten­tion of jump­ing over and this po­lice­man pulled me over and he sat in the car and just talked to me. Then I went home. I’d go to work and try to con­vince ev­ery­one in­clud­ing my­self that I was happy.” he words of a mother who fi­nally got the strength to leave her abu­sive part­ner. The road is still rough but it is one that she now finds joy walk­ing on as it is free of abuse and her chil­dren are no longer wit­ness­ing that con­stantly. She is an ed­u­cated, beau­ti­ful ac­com­plished woman who at one time ac­tu­ally thought she de­served noth­ing bet­ter than a hus­band who pum­meled her when­ever he felt like it.

With tears rolling down her cheeks and sometimes in anger she spoke to me anony­mously as she tried in her own words to an­swer that per­sis­tent ques­tion: Why do women stay in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships? That ques­tion is be­ing asked again with the re­cent deaths of two women at the hands of men they thought loved them.

The mur­der of Reona Payne by for­mer dec­o­rated Cap­tain of the Guyana De­fence Force Or­wain Sandy was par­tic­u­larly vi­o­lent as he was said to have pumped over ten bul­lets into Payne even as she fled from him.

But Payne has been killed over and over again on so­cial me­dia, es­pe­cially on Face­book, by many who be­lieve she de­served it and that she drove her paramour to such ac­tion. It is sick­en­ing that these com­ments come from women who are dis­sect­ing this woman’s life, cast­ing blame and be­smirch­ing her char­ac­ter as they seek to ex­cuse Sandy’s hor­rific ac­tions.

“When I read these com­ments I wanna scream, ‘Peo­ple!’ Be­cause I know it could have been me. It’s not black and white,” the woman telling me her story said.

“Our re­la­tion­ship was vi­o­lent be­fore we got mar­ried,” she added.

I had asked her how many long the abuse lasted. “So [it lasted] for about ten years. “The first time, I think I cursed at him... I had a way of say­ing things that I knew would hurt him and he slapped me, so I hit back be­cause no one was go­ing to hit me and get away with it. That ended in me get­ting a good beat­ing. And I was mad but then when my pas­sion cooled, and my body didn’t hurt I con­cluded that it was all my fault,” she said qui­etly.

“And at the time there was an­other woman in the pic­ture so if I left she would ‘win’. Isn’t that stupid?” she asked.

She did not ex­pect an an­swer and I gave none.

“And if I’m hon­est I’d have to ad­mit that my mom’s re­la­tion­ship with my fa­ther messed me up. I was afraid of not be­ing the one he chose so I apol­o­gized and that kind of thing kept hap­pen­ing. We’d fight and I’d end up apol­o­giz­ing. Mar­riage made it worse,”

She paused, and I took the op­por­tu­nity to ask if her mother was phys­i­cally abused by her fa­ther.

“No. My fa­ther had two women at the same time and in the end, he chose his other fam­ily. So, I didn’t want that to be me,” she said, the hurt from that ex­pe­ri­ence ev­i­dent in her eyes.

“And why stay? It’s like I said be­fore… when it was good it was so good,” she said as if read­ing my mind.

“But it got to a point where him hit­ting me was nor­mal. When I re­al­ized that fight­ing back only made it worse,” she added.

I asked about the good she had men­tioned.

“The good was the per­fect fam­ily mo­ments,” she an­swered. “A girl’s dream,” I com­mented. “My dream,” she re­joined. I told her I think that is the dream of many women, even me, and she just moved on with­out an­swer­ing. I won­dered about that for a bit, but I also made no fur­ther com­ment on it.

“I used to think that I was crazy that it all had to be my fault be­cause he had so many friends who thought the world of him and his fam­ily al­ways sided with him,” she con­tin­ued.

“The whole thing made me crazy too be­cause I’d stay up wait­ing for him, know­ing that he was with some woman, know­ing how a con­fronta­tion would end and still con­fronting him.

“He told me I was noth­ing, that I was a cross to his life. Ac­cused me of sleep­ing around and I’d just try to prove him wrong.

“And there were so many other women that I thought I had to be the prob­lem. Why else would they want him?”

She an­swered her ques­tion with bit­ter laugh­ter. “And if I left who would want me?”

Iasked her why she felt no one would have wanted her, af­ter all she is young, beau­ti­ful and ed­u­cated.

“Dur­ing the good times we would talk, and he’d tell me how guys thought. So, I knew that if I were sin­gle men would prob­a­bly want me yes, but not for a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship.” She ob­vi­ously be­lieved him.

“We were sep­a­rated for a long time. I went back be­cause it was hard rais­ing the chil­dren alone. He was mak­ing good money and I was strug­gling so I thought I could han­dle the cheat­ing. So many other women do, so all I have to do is stay quiet and my chil­dren would have a bet­ter life.

“I like hav­ing my chil­dren in pri­vate school and al­low­ing them to have ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, but I could not af­ford these on my own. And I also liked get­ting my hair done every week and be­ing able to buy nice things. He ac­tu­ally told me that I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too.”

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