In the video, the two move in a dance and even though the moves are at times out of time with the beat of the music and the environment somewhat unkempt one initially gets the impression that they are a couple in love having fun; the caption is, “Nobody can stop this love”.
But then the woman turns and her black eye and swollen face become evident; her laughter is forced and the viewer becomes aware that all is not well. The man, though, is obviously having a great time, laughing heartily and he holds her, caressing her at times, while in contrast her hands on him are tentative.
The video was uploaded on Facebook, hours after the sister of the woman in the video uploaded several photographs of horrific injuries she allegedly sustained at the hands of the man she was dancing with.
A Facebook friend shared the post made by the sister and even though it is on a public medium I will keep the names of the parties anonymous since I have not spoken to the victim, and also because my heart cries for the woman. I reached out to the sister and I learnt that the incident took place in Dominica. She said she lives in Guadeloupe and is frustrated as her sister is not speaking to anyone and is back with her alleged abuser.
Before I read the words, the injuries in the photographs caught my attention.
In her post, the sister expressed her anger and hurt over the woman’s decision to return to the alleged abuser just days after the horrific and humiliating attack even though she was strongly advised not to. She went as far as disowning her sister publicly.
I felt her pain and frustration as I am sure it was not the first time this woman was abused but like some persons commented on the post, she should understand that her sister is in grave danger and she needs help.
Her post read:
“NOBODY AND I REPEAT, NOBODY DONT TELL ME IS MY SISTER TAKE IT DOWN😠😠😠 On Thursday night, ur children father try to kill u in front of ur children, have them traumatized, cried the next day cause the didn’t want to talk to him, put u outside without even a panty on u, and ONLY a pamper on ur little boy, in the middle of the night from his house, passed all in bush to go and get rescue from this man, all his friends even his family came and see u and told u don’t go back with him, it’s not even 3 days full and ur back with him… LORD U KNOW MY HEART and today or tomorrow someone tell me that my so call sister is dead I will not come to ur funeral… I will never in my life love a man more than myself or my kids😠😠😠😠😠 THIS IS WHAT [name of alleged abuser] DID TO MY SO CALLED SISTER [name of sister].”
While many of the persons who commented on the post went in the direction of condemning the woman for returning to her abuser, others expressed sympathy and shared their own experiences.
“It’s not easy to come out in an abused relationship I was in one myself for 10 years We does tend to love the man more than ourselves for some reason I myself can’t explain. Please talk to her she needs help and you can help her to move on… I had broken bones and still I accepted him back. When my heart told me it was enough with help from a psychiatrist and people I realized that loved me I left ,4 years later he died… Help her she needs it,” said one woman.
“Alas she loves the man more than herself all she needs is some counseling. Some woman tend to love a man more than ourselves but I not staying in no abusive relationship for nobody this man dont love her and she self she’s wicked to herself see how she’s small is because of that son of a bitch no woman deserves to stay in abusive relationship she’s in a condition where she’s miserable because of that man… A man hits me in front of my children I’m not staying in dat relationship even if he wants to kill me… she needs help yall… I’ll keep on praying for her so she could get out this frustrating relationship… I cant believe ur sister loves a man more than herself and her children, disappointed in her…” wrote another.
“If she is strong she will leave. I left after 10 years I was even afraid to tell my friends I would hide my scars and fears. That’s why I know she needs help to move on she can’t do it alone most of the comments here ain’t necessary get his ass lock up so she can be free from that abuse,” yet another said.
Over 100 comments were posted and unfortunately most were angry at the woman for returning to her alleged abuser.
Hours later, the man in question posted two videos and a photograph of himself and the woman.
Above one of the dancing videos he had the caption “Nobody can stop us”.
Astoundingly, the first comment under the video was: “Who sing that song? I loveee it but the life of me i don’t know who sings it.” This was followed by a discussion with others about the song.
I wondered if the man’s friends knew of the alleged abuse or if they watched the video to the end where the woman’s black and blue marks and swollen face were evident.
But it was obvious that some knew and attempted in a subtle way to call him out.
“You making me jealous Lol my boy i know you love this woman and she loves you too and she is the mother of your children. Don’t let that mistake repeat itself. I know we women can be troublesome but if she gets you angry walk away and come back later. Take her to bed and talk about the situation and you know what’s next,” said one.
“That’s my people and i know they love each other. But he has to try to control himself…,” said another.
Under the video with the caption “Nobody can stop this love” others were more direct in calling him out.
“You don’t need to dance with her… You both need counseling!! She’s dancing with a black eye and swollen face. She may be afraid to leave or have no other recourse but we are not playing!!” was one of the most direct comments.
Apart from the obvious injuries, the woman’s hair was disheveled. Most women do not want videos or photographs posted on social media unless they are looking their best, so it was obvious that he orchestrated the videos and she was forced to comply.
Under the smiling photograph of them, the man wrote: “Then there was a Love can make a rich man poor and love can make a rich man cure.”
“Fix it bro and put god first love is good but bro. I know you have a good heart . I do not want to accept that pic and allegations. But if it is correct your actions and give them love,” said one of his friends.
“Respect to the mother of your children and long-term relationship you guys looking great,” said another.
“All this time is u in that drama I didn’t know u were on my page. However one picture cannot cover up them scars I saw on that girl. This picture look great but no excuses for the last couple pics unless if u were on drugs,” another said.
“What’s Love got to do with it???? THIS IS A CRIME!! You have violated her basic human rights!! You both need counseling…,” was the most forceful comment.
It is hard for us to comprehend how a woman who has been physically hurt time and time again by a man would return to the same man. I remember once when a woman was brought to this newspaper by her abuser, her injuries still fresh, to say the injuries occurred as a result of her first attacking the man. He had brought her after friends and family members had anonymously complained that she had returned to her abuser. Even though no name was mentioned, he had recognised himself in the story and visited the office requesting to see me. I was duty bound (as advised by my editor) to carry ‘his side’ of the story.
The questions as to why women remain in abusive relationships may have several answers depending on whom you ask. The answers include but are not limited to: fear of isolation, danger and fear, shame and embarrassment, denial, trauma and a lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, practical reasons (such as finances) and lack of support when they need to leave. The last two are true for many abused women in Guyana, but there are also those who can support themselves but are ashamed.
Guyana has laws to protect women but the police continue to err and the system which is supposed to protect our women fails them; many end up dead.
But we need to stop blaming survivors for staying or returning to abusive relationships and start supporting them to enable them to leave.
Women will continue to be abused and the system may continue to fail them but we as family members and relatives can do more to save our sisters.