She appeared sad rather than shocked at people reacted. Although I know many persons refuse to get involved, even when a man is attacking a woman in public, I was still surprised when she told me this. Some people say they do not want to get involved in “man and woman story”, so even if a man is beating a woman they would do nothing, possibly out of fear or perhaps because they are immune to this type of behaviour.
I could not help but remember my experience when I thought I was stopping a boy from attacking a girl and both parties, along with their friends, burst into peals of laughter at my expense. I remember how angry I was; even so, I am not sure I could stand back and do nothing if I see woman being attacked. But that is just what men did when this woman was being attacked in the street recently.
“Girl, wah I guh do? They just stand up and watch. But I fight he off and he almost like push me in the drain with water,” she said.
“I don’t know why he don’t just leave me alone and live he life and leh me live me life. I just fed up of he right now and sometimes is like you don’t know what to do,” she added.
She has been married to this man for a number of years, but recently got up the courage to leave him.
“I lef he, you know. I living by me self. And this man even help to carry out me things. So, I don’t know why he deh behaving like this. He don’t want me talking to no man and he always coming around me and if he see me talking to a man is a issue.
“So that is how it start the day. He see me talking and then he come up and threaten the man and the man is just a customer. The man had to move away. Now when he passing again he talking and when I answer he back is just so this man attack me, just like that.”
I asked her if she made a report to the police.
“Yeah. Is whole day yesterday I went and deal with that. I make me statement and everything and went and get a medical. But you know how much times I report this man? He name deh at the station plenty time. I had to now get a restraining order and serve it on he because he always coming around and threatening me,” she added. We had many conversations over the months about her abusive relationship and she always said that she would leave in her own time.
“I know what I doing, you know,” she told me once. But I was not sure of her statement because I saw the fear in her.
She has no children for him and according to her he did not support her financially, so I could not comprehend why she stayed because she had also declared that she no longer loved him.
“You don’t make rash decisions just like dah. Things take time,” she had answered when I showed her all the reasons why she should leave the man.
I asked her if he tried to prevent her leaving their matrimonial home.
“Stop me? This man help me move out me stuff. Help fetch them out to the truck. He ain’t try to stop me. But now he still tormenting me and I know is he demons have he like dah. He need to go to church and change he ways. Why he must be tormenting me now?” she asked. I am sure she did not expect an answer.
“And you know is not like we really use to live together like husband and wife. We never use to sleep together or nothing because of he attitude and how he use to treat me. Sometimes I use to frighten, but then I just had to bear up until I get me own place,” she said.
I asked her if she was prepared to testify against him if and when the case goes to court.
“Well I don’t know if he guh get charge. I know I tek out the restraining order and make a statement and so. But knowing he, he wouldn’t go to the station or nothing because is plenty report I make to more than one station about this man but he never get charge,” she answered.
Her last words sounded like deja vu because they have been said before by many victims of domestic violence and of the relatives of those who died as a result of it. They have spoken about making reports to the police and no action being taken.
The police, on the other hand, claim that women make reports then withdraw their statements or refuse to testify in the court. However, there is no doubt that there is a culture in the police force where domestic violence cases are not always taken seriously. There are occasions where, instead of investigating and prosecuting, police officers take on the role of counsellor and attempt to get the couple to reconcile even though the man would have battered the woman.
“I really just want he to leave me alone because right now the next step for me is the divorce court,” she said, when I told her she needed to go back to the police station and ensure that her husband was arrested and charged with assaulting her.
“He nah guh go anywhere,” she insisted. I attempted to explain that he need not go anywhere, it was for the police to arrest and charge him, but she did not seem convinced.
“He just need to go to church and stop molesting me. I don’t want nothing from him and he treat me like a dog all dem years. I don’t know why he just don’t live he life. But I tell you, is demons this man have. When you go to church you does understand dem things. This man not acting in he right sense. He need to go to church and get rid of the demons,” she stressed.
I had no response for that and right then we were interrupted. I chose to make my exit, telling her I would return at a later time.
I am not sure how it would end for her, but I am happy that she has moved out of a home where she was physically and emotionally abused. It is now left to be seen if her husband would allow her move on, but I am not optimistic.