Sookree Boodram commits to fighting domestic violence here

Forty-three-year-old Boodram, whose story was featured in Stabroek News, is back in Guyana after twenty-two years and she said this will be one of her many trips as she works along with others to end the scourge.

The rally, which was held under the theme “Break The Silence, Stop the Violence,’ was  planned to coincide with the observance of International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Among the organizers were Varshnie Singh of the Kids First Fund, overseas-based Guyanese Dianne Madray of the Irene Madray Recreational Arts and Resources Centre (IMRARC) and Kaieteur News columnist Stella Ramsaroop with support from Help & Shelter and Red Thread.

The rally was billed to focus on information sharing and education as well as raising awareness through the arts.

In an interview with this newspaper hours after she arrived in the country, Boodram said she saw her involvement in the rally as important because she can relate to persons who are being abused or were abused.

“I feel strongly the emotional trauma that a victim goes through, unless a person walks the same path they may not be able to relate, we can learn it through education but unless we walk it [we may not understand].”

She noted that the panel of persons involved in organizing the rally presented a good diversity of people, some who are victims and some who are not, but  all of them can give a different perspective to domestic violence.

Boodram, is in the final stages of completing her book entitled ‘Breakout,’ which chronicles her life as a domestic violence victim.

She said she has been receiving many calls with requests to become involved in various awareness initiatives but she has been very selective. However, she saw the rally at Bourda as being by far the most visible and far reaching countrywide and beyond.

“I will not affiliate myself with any organisation, political entity, sect, religious or otherwise. I have a story with a sad ending, my marriage ended but the abuse ended. A sad ending for an iconic marriage, nobody wants to be married and then be divorced, so that’s the sad part. The happy part is the victim is no longer a victim, that is what I want to share just me and my story.”

Commits to activism here
She said she will always be willing to share her story if it is going to help another woman and that is why she willingly got involved in Thursday’s rally and she added that her abuse started in Guyana and she feels that her activism should begin on this soil.

Boodram pointed out that in the  US more help is available to victims but some like herself did not seek that assistance, while in Guyana victims are not afforded all of the help  they need.

The woman said she has been keeping abreast with the upsurge in violence against women in Guyana and she remains concerned.

Following the lead of the organizers, Boodram said on Thursday she would have manned a desk with her information while providing answers to any question members of the public might have posed.

In the evening during the arts programme she was scheduled to speak and share her experience.

Apart from her involvement Thursday, she will be accompanying the ladies to various  awareness events to speak and she would also be visiting schools as the organizers continue to get the message through to various audiences.

“I just came in for this four-day event and I am going to be focusing on it entirely,” Boodram said, even as she pledged that it not be the end of her work in this  area in Guyana as she plans to be back at least three times a year.
She pointed out that it  would not just be “getting on a plane and coming” but  rather it would be a coordinated effort among the organizers as it is much more effective to take on the fight as a team as united they stand and divided they would fall.

Meanwhile, the woman said she plans to make a video/audio recording for persons who may not be interested in reading the book or who cannot read and it would begin in front of the Black Bush house where she grew up and she would be taped there answering some questions.

Confided
Meanwhile, the woman’s brother Lakhram Boodram, who was the first person she told about the abuse she was suffering, accompanied her to Guyana and he told Stabroek News that there were some things he had  noticed when he went to visit his sister but it was only after she confided in him that things fell into place.

He said he was furious initially and from a male perspective he wanted to avenge his sister but when he assessed the situation he “formulated a plan and put it into action” which was getting his sister and her children away from her abuser.

Boodram recalled that after some years into the abusive marriage, her hands would shake uncontrollably at times and this did not stop after almost one year of being away from her abuser.

“Everything was in chaos, she was a total mess and I don’t know where we got the strength but I latched onto her very closely and there were very irrational decisions that she was making and suggesting to me…” Lakhram said.

He said he did not support his sister walking away from everything she worked for and built during the years but he was quick to point out that at that time his sister was not in danger of losing her life as the abuse by then was more psychological than physical.

She said in the end she ended up providing and assisting her former husband financially – even after she had paid for a lockdown rehabilitation programme for him – and rid him of the responsibility of child support.

“He left and I kept all of the debts… He left willingly; he had the money and the freedom to drink.”

Boodram was just 15-years-old when she met her husband while she was still at school in Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, but one year later she migrated to the US; it was 1983. But although she was a teenager and he was 22 and they were oceans apart they remained in contact and in 1987 he moved to the US and they hooked up.

She had told Stabroek News in an earlier interview that her eyes should have been opened during the months they shared as a common-law couple but back then she was a starry-eyed, 20-year-old who was in love with her 26-year-old prince.

“…We were living together for a few months prior to the wedding and [there was] constant drinking, swearing, and belittling my family while ordering me not to go over to see family living close to me at the time. I was just 20 years old and had no idea about the disease of alcoholism and what behaviours resulted from that disease.

I did not realize that the abusers [did that] to isolate their victims. I was his victim,” she had told this newspaper.

Overlooking those months of abuse, Boodram went ahead and married the man but they were still in their honeymoon period when it got worse.

But in the end with the support of her family she was finally able to get the strength to end the marriage.

Today Boodram is a Senior Finance Manager with Starwood Vacation Ownership, Orlando, Florida, a division of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Prior to that, she was the Regional Controller for Sunterra Resorts, Inc., Orlando, Florida. She was responsible for the Eastern US and Caribbean Region.

Her accounting career began as an Accounts Payable Clerk for Holiday RV Superstores, Inc., Orlando, Florida in 1989.

By the time she left Holiday RV Superstores ten years later she was the National Accounts Payable Manager for their US operations.

Her book will be published early next year.

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