The first column on January 29, featured the experience of a battered woman’s struggle in dealing with a system that is not friendly towards women like her and dealing with her husband whose only intent is for her to return to their matrimonial home. She had left her husband following physical abuse and he had approached the Probation and Welfare Office, but after the officer who summoned her learned that abuse was involved, she was advised to make a formal report.
A member of the reading public has enquired about Mavis (not her real name) with whom I have remained in constant contact; it has been over five months since she left the home.
Below is a recent conversation we had:
How have you been? Have you seen your husband? I asked.
She sat quietly for a while, folded and unfolded her arms and looking away from me, slowly started speaking.
“Well you know things hard. Me nah find no work and is like I not seeing me way. But dem children going to school and so but it is still hard,” she said. “Is just me and the children, but a does get some help, but it still hard…”
Realizing that Mavis was avoiding the question as to whether she had seen her husband I enquired whether she reported the abuse as was advised.
“Well I didn’t go back. Is hard to come out and leave dem children. You remember how it was dah last time. I don’t really got the time and me ain’t got the money either,” she said quickly.
But you want him in jail? I asked.
The question silenced Mavis who was about to say something else.
“Well no,” she subsequently replied. “Is dem children father. I just don’t want he do it again. I just want he understand wah he do is wrong and he must treat me better. He just have to treat me like he wife. Look I see he the other day. He come and say he come fuh he family and that he taking we home. But I tell he we ain’t going nowhere and how he gat to change. I tell he how he need plenty help. I not going back to that house, I don’t want to live under dem condition.”
But you would like to make up with your husband? I probed.
“Well I know wah he do was wrong but even the bible talk about separating from you husband and he is me children father, you know. And I don’t know any other man is he I went with since I was a lil girl.
“Is not that he old, old. He just lil more big than me… I don’t know how he get suh to treat me like that,” she said.
“Yeah he sleep by me,” Mavis said, answering a question I did not ask.
“But you know I say I not going back in dah place, is like deh place cross,” she continued, blaming the environment and not her husband.
“I know we need nuff counselling and so. We need help and he have to want the help. He know about God because he does pray and we use to go to church as a family. I don’t know how he does treat me sometime like I is nobody. He have to come to where I deh and we could start over, but he say he can’t do that. And is hard if I could get a lil wuk and don’t have to get things from people it could be easier,” Mavis said.
“Man sometimes I does be so confuse I don’t know what to do. And then you get people telling you to go back home and all dem things. I don’t know what to do or say sometimes. But then I does remember how he does treat me and how is the same thing he tell me deh last time when I leff he.”
Mavis had left her husband for a few months some years ago but returned home. She said the situation did not get better.
“But ah holding out. Wha ah know is that I not going back and if he can’t get help and come, then I don’t know… dah must be it,” she said the last few words quietly as if she did not believe what she was saying.
So you are not sure what your plan is? I asked.
“No, that is the biggest problem. I don’t know what to do sometimes but I have to do something because I have dem children. People think it easy but is not easy and every day is a struggle. Sometimes I does feel so alone…”
While she did not say it, it was obvious that Mavis has had intimate relations with her husband in the last few months. She has not been counselled and as such continues to battle with confusion. What was telling throughout this conversation and previous ones was that Mavis never once said she loved her husband. She spoke about what was right, what society expected and what was best for the children.
This column will continue to stay in touch with Mavis and render assistance where possible.