“When my mother left I was small. My father use to beat her up and she left me and my sister and took the three boys. Next door to my father we had a distant uncle and he use to ask for me to come and help he sweep. He use to carry me in this bedroom and I can still remember this bed, it use to be in the middle of the room and it was made of straw. And is dah bed he would put me and do his thing.”
This is how a mother of three described the sexual abuse she endured as a child.
“I read about the other women and I wanted to talk too and since you don’t have to give your identity I want to tell my story too,” she said. “But I hope it would not take long because I have my children with me and they hungry, they want go and get lunch,” she said, looking anxiously at the two young boys who were seated nearby.
I asked her what she meant by her uncle ‘use to do his thing’.
“He use to have sex with me. I was just about seven and it use to be so painful. He would have this bottle of oil that he use to rub on he penis and on me too. Because of that, onto this day I can’t take the smell of coconut oil because it does bring back all the memory about what use to happen.
“Things like abuse don’t really go away. I did counselling when I was 25 and still like it ain’t really help me. I was marry by then and is not like my husband use to beat me, but one day he ask for sex and I say no and he pushed and it was like it trigger me and all the memory come back. I start to get depress and start hating him and one day I overdose and had to be hospitalized,” she said emotionlessly.
“After that it was very difficult having sex and after a friend intervened I start to see a doctor. I told the story but it didn’t really help because they put me on some anti-depressant pills that only use to make me sleep all the time, so I came off. Two years after I left my husband because he kept asking me for sex,” she said.
As is the norm I allowed her to direct our conversation: it was her story to tell.
“When I was small I did tell my father,” she said. “But he beat me for ‘lying’, according to him. He call my uncle and ask he and he say I lying, I just didn’t want to go and help him do work and so my father beat me. I was a child, I just tek it and didn’t say anything else. I remember one time me and my sister was alone at home and my uncle come and was going upstairs where my sister was and I start to bawl and cry and tell he if he touch she I guh talk.
“I had to hide from he when I say it because he come back downstairs and was looking for me. But I was happy at least that time he didn’t do her anything. I don’t know if he ever did because I never ask she and she never tell me.
“My uncle was a very trusted person in our family he use to come and be around us.”
I asked whether she had ever confronted him and if he was still alive.
“I never tell he anything. You know when I talk to the doctor, he tell me how I have to confront him and right away I get blackout; that is how bad it was. But he had no wife or children and he get very sick and couldn’t help he self and one day he drink gramoxone and die.
“The sad thing is the small house is still there and so the memory is still there. Every time I come out the house I have to see his house,” she said.
I suggested that maybe she should move from the area.
“How long would I run? Running doan help. I run for years and for some reason I keep coming back. He is dead and I am alive,” she answered.
“My mother come back when I was ten and that is how he stop. Because daddy use to go away at work and we use to be home alone, but when mommy come back she use to be at home all the time.”
I asked her if she ever told her mom of the abuse and whether she blames her.
“I never tell her. I don’t know. I just didn’t tell her. I use to blame her at first but then I stopped. Daddy use to beat her bad and then he had another woman. I understand why she left and I know if she was around she would not allow anyone to touch me.
“She never go and get another man or anything. And she came back after some years, but my father never change and now he is very sick and can’t look after he self.”
Is your mother happy? Does she take care of your ailing father? I questioned.
“I don’t know if she is happy. She is now a alcoholic because of the life she had. She drinks six days a week and is always drunk. She don’t look at my father and I don’t blame her. We have to look at him. And he does get he lil pension and so and is he does buy the rum for her. Is like he feel guilty or something.
“And even I use to drink at one time. I start drinking at 21 and I use to drink hard for three years. It was hard. I remember I sign up to write CXC and I went to carry in a SBA and the teacher try to rape me and I run home and try to kill me self. I went in hospital. I was just 16 and is there I meet my husband. His girlfriend was in there because she had a abortion and that is how we meet,” she said.
I wanted to say so much at this point, but I remained silent.
“I didn’t want to go back to school, but my father force me. I did know where my husband use to live and I catch a bus and went there and we run away together. I was 16 and he was 23, but I couldn’t have sex with him for a while. But it happen and then we get marry. And you know when a man marry you dem feel dem own you and you ain’t mean anything no more. I have been divorced for a while now, but I can’t settle down because it is all about sex and I don’t really want sex,” she said.
She was silent for a while and I asked her why she wanted to share her experience.
“… When I read about other women it help me because I know I am not the only one. I have talked about it over and over. So you wouldn’t see me getting emotional and crying because I do that already, but every time I talk about it, it is better.
“If other women read it and they come forward and talk about it then it would be good because every time you talk about it you feel better. I just want to tell parents to believe their children when they say certain things.
“… I want to talk about the system not really working. They have numbers to call when you are abused or felling depressed and feeling suicidal but when you call those numbers there is no real help for you. When my husband was abusing me sexually and demanding sex from me, I went to Help and Shelter and they put in a battered women’s home without any proper food or anybody to talk to. After three days I protested and left and went back to my husband,” she said with sad shake of her head.
“I use to get counsel at a clinic that had one psychiatrist for over 50 patients. You think anyone of us was really getting help?” she asked.
“I want the people in power to invest more and have more trained counsellors to visit homes and see what is happening. There are so many people who are suicidal and we need to have a proper counselling system especially for women.”
As she finished that statement her children gave her another of their anxious look and she indicated she had to leave.
We parted with the promise to remain in contact.