The gun to her head, though loaded, did not discharge. He choked her. Crack. Imagine hearing your neck snap and believing that the shadowy figure, the path to no return to your physical form, had come to take you. You envision yourself lying on the white, soft lining in the brown or white box, where maggots would soon have their way, slowly turning you to dust. Or, perhaps, if it is your preference or for religious purposes, it is fire that turns you to ashes.
She was eighteen when she met him. He was almost forty. Often the charm of an older man flatters a damsel. He was moneyed and began helping her to develop herself and those gestures assured her of love, while he waited like she was his young virgin bride for whom a generous dowry had been paid.
Eventually at twenty, though warned about his “bad” character, her heartbeats were like tiny drums playing sensual melodies in between the thoughts and smiles inspired by him. It was time. Anyone who has ever been in love can testify about the euphoria one experiences when he or she has found the courage to unreservedly expose oneself to another person. But perhaps if she had listened to the warnings about his character or had dreamed about the terror that was to come, she would have escaped the segments of his insanity.
Life bled out of her time and time again by vacuum aspiration; a boy he would take care of, he told her, but a girl would be abandoned. She was also betrayed by a friend; the suggestion of a sexual escapade involving the three of them was not her desire. The monster screamed in her face, debunking whatever theories she might have had about simply being trapped in a nightmare from which she would soon awake for her trap was not only psychological.
She was drugged. She believed it was a sandy substance in her drink, which is a path through which rapists can devour their victims. She was locked in a room. Unable to escape, she screamed and banged on the door until he finally released her. Had she only envisioned that it was a forewarning of a longer period of slavery, perhaps she would have found the courage to escape then. But, naïve, she stayed, hoping that a better day would come as most victims of abuse often do.
“I never thought he would kill me.” So many have uttered those words and are not here to tell their stories as she was able to tell me hers. Perhaps her story will serve as a testimony for other young women who are at risk of falling into the same trap. And if only one life can be saved, it is better than one lost.
She was beaten regularly, her hair was cut while she slept, and her friend’s betrayal evolved into them boldly displaying their lust for each other in front of her. If she had agreed to his desire, perhaps the three of them would be living happily in that house of traps and trepidations, for what consenting adults agree to is no business of society. Perhaps if she had agreed only the two of them would please him, providing a lifetime of gratification and she would have been saved her from further years of torture.
We have heard stories about women being trafficked in Guyana for the purpose of sexual slavery. Many imagine that sexual slavery only occurs in distant places; in dark, interior territories, where moonlight could only partially expose the terrors of the night. Many would not like to imagine that in the house next door a woman would be chained to a bed against her will; a woman who could not find the courage to let go because she was in love; a woman who could not let go because he was all she had known until that point; a woman who could not let go because she feared him; a woman who could not let go because she was trapped.
For one week she was chained to the bed. Not handcuffed for play or pleasure but restrained because a deranged man had not found the courage to deal with the evil that controlled him. He would never sit with an elder or a counsellor to try to figure why he was the monster he was; there was no interest in escaping from the influences of cowards who came before him.
He brought food and water to the bed and fed her like she was still in diapers. Her baths, a brief break from the bed, were his hands soaping her body as her tears mixed with the water flowed down the drain hole, all while her hands remained bound. He took the liberty to rape her whenever he pleased.
It was not until she started vomiting blood (a result of the beatings) that some smidgen of compassion entered his heart and she was released. Crying for help, she tried to turn to a religious leader, but before her escape and her chance to build on her strength, before she could recognise the divine that lay within her, and her ability to be the superwoman who could save herself, the snare of her devil trapped her again. He promised he would never hurt her again. He blamed his behaviour on drugs–perhaps he was also under the influence when he tried to drown her in a trench and she had to be rescued by passersby.
And then he was gone for a while and she met a kind man who demonstrated that good men do exist. His adoration did not come with the price of her blood being splattered, his kisses were not poison, his hands and feet were not weapons and never would she feel hard metal against her head to add to the scars already on her face; never again would she be terrified by hearing the snap of her neck, because he loved her.
But even after his affection soothed her; there were times she still found herself under her tormentor’s control. But sometimes it is the birth of a child that saves us. It is the need to be an example for them that liberates us.
She chose to tell her story because it is a part of her healing. She chose to share because she is hoping that some young woman or women in danger would read about her experience and know that the very first slap, punch or kick may be the first step to a life of misery that often ends with rest in peace. She chose to tell her story because though she may still be confused about how to express love because of the damage, the love of an honourable man helped to save her.