Domestic violence attacks: To intervene or not to intervene?

Some time ago I was seated in my parked car on Camp Street with my two sons when I overheard a ruckus. The car window was down and as I looked a young man on a bicycle rode up to a group of youths walking along the avenue and accosted a young woman among them. Scrambling at her neck, he shouted ‘Girl wah I tell you about walking hay?’

As the words came out of his mouth he made an attempt as if to punch her, while holding her neck in a sort of chokehold. I immediately sprang into action, jumping out of the car, hollering at him (I can’t remember what I said), I rushed towards them. Blinded by what I was seeing, I did not even remember that there were others around. But as I moved towards them he let her go and burst into peals of laughter. The young woman I was rushing to help joined in as well as the others in the groups.

As the young man laughed he said something to the effect of, ‘Catch another one’. I returned to my car, my heart racing and as it subsided I became increasingly angry. I could not comprehend what I had just witnessed and why those grown teenagers, some may have been older, would want to pull a prank like that considering the frequency with which women are attacked, maimed and killed in our country.

My two sons looked at me and one asked why those in the group were laughing; I was at a loss to explain what had just transpired.

This experience came back vividly when I read of the killing of Jason De Florimonte, who, according to reports, was assaulting his girlfriend Christine Rambarran in front of his home. The handyman at the Tourist Villa Hotel, Terrence Newsun, saw and intervened. The rest is history as De Florimonte was subsequently shot dead by the hotel’s owner Erwin Bacchus.

Newsun was held by the police and I imagine that he would have asked himself why he intervened. It is only natural. There have been countless stories of women being publicly assaulted and no one going to their aid. I wondered if Newsun’s experience might further dissuade persons from intervening should they witness a case of assault on the streets.

I also recalled a conversation I had with a female acquaintance who had shared that she was publicly assaulted by a former partner. “One night this man beat me on the road. At first, I was shame but when the blows start coming shame gone and I start crying and hollering,” she had shared with me.

I asked her if persons were on the street at the time.

“Yes, it was early so people been on the street but nobody ain’t say or do nothing. The thing is people know we and dem know that this man use to beat me so maybe dem say is man and woman story leh we try deh,” she said almost flippantly.

“At one time I run from this man but how I could run away from he eh? This man follow me and bear blows on more blows, but he didn’t know I was heading to the station, like he did forget and girl I just run in the station and he ain’t follow me,” she continued.

Did you report him? I asked.

“Yes, I tell the police wah happen but in de end, I tell them I don’t want no story. Look I know I should charge he and so because is nah one time he beat me. I just glad that I finally lef he and he is now history. When he see me, he don’t say nothing and I don’t live in the same village anymore.

“I don’t know wah I was holding on to really because is not like he de really doing anything for me and in de end, he didn’t give me a hard time to lef he. I don’t know if he de feel relieve or something, but I say I leaving and that was it,” she said with a shake of her head.

After reading of Newsun’s intervention, I contacted my acquaintance and asked if she would have wanted someone to intervene when she was attacked.

After a long pause she said: “You know thinking back about it I don’t know, even though yea I was in pain I not sure if I wanted anybody to say or do nothing. I de done shame and maybe it de better people pretend that they didn’t see…,” she said bizarrely.

I interjected that they would have seen, and they would have spoken regardless.

“Yea that is true, man I don’t really know how to explain it. But I tell you I wouldna want anybody coming and do nothing. It might sound strange, but you got to be in it to know what I talking about,” she said.

I could not agree with her, but I did not say so. I thought again of my Camp Street experience and wondered if I would intervene if I witnessed a real attack. I am not sure. The woman in me keeps saying I will, but there is that voice advising that I keep out. I hope I am not faced with a real-life scenario. I don’t want to put myself to the test.

Just two days after the death of De Florimonte cane harvester Ramesh Ramdeen killed his wife Rohanie Lakham before taking his own life. She had decided to leave and had gone to her home to uplift her belongings in the company of two police officers and a sister-in-law. The officers subsequently left, and the sister-in-law followed shortly after.

The woman was later killed.

The issue of domestic violence has been discussed ad nauseam, but still enough is not being done to curb this scourge. The conversation has to continue, but the powers that be also have to take actions that can benefit those who really need assistance. I do not have the answers, but they must be found, too many women are being killed. Enough is enough.

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