The news is filled with horror stories of children being abused, beaten and abandoned. Understandably, the outrage has reached a boiling point. People want to see justice for children in the country, and everywhere in the world. As do I.
What about those who suffer in silence, never once speaking out against their abuser, never once filing a complaint? Yes I am speaking about our mothers, our sisters, our aunts – our women. What about their life of horrors? In a day and age when equality is supposed to reign supreme, it is disheartening to see that our society is still backwards enough to look the other way when a woman is clearly in distress.
Even more unfair is the attitude that some adopt towards a woman who is experiencing abuse. “Why doesn’t she just leave?”
Do you want to know why? Are you prepared to know why?
They mostly don’t leave because for the majority, there is nowhere to go. It is as simple as that. Then there are those who want to leave, have somewhere to go, but know that ultimately, the laws mean nothing to the aggrieved animal that is on the hunt for them. And if they have children, that makes it even more difficult. I would know. My mother was one of the many women I know who survived nearly a lifetime of physical abuse.
Since before I was born, my mother had been subjected to incredibly horrifying acts of abuse that at the end of twenty years, broke her spirit almost completely. She married at the age of eighteen to a man seven years her senior. She didn’t go to high school, despite her intelligence, because her father was one of those types who didn’t believe in an education for women. (The pattern emerges already). For her, the future was a lifetime of wedded bliss, with a few children and housewifery.
Two years later, the beatings started. As she used to tell me, sometimes, it would be because she didn’t prepare a meal a certain way, or sometimes, it was because my father had a bad day, and of course, needed a way to release his frustrations. I grew up watching it happen, and in my mind, I can clearly see these images playing over and over. I can only imagine what it must have been like for her, knowing that she could not leave.
Not that she didn’t try; but her family was no help, as the situation was the same at home. In fact, her father gave her an extra whooping and sent her on her way back to the husband "she chose". And she did. She stayed for me, fearing for both our safety. For the remainder of her life with her abusive husband, she felt the frustration and fear that millions currently live with, knowing that you cannot leave because there is no one who can help. She ran to the police, and she never got anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live, it happens. For some, there are havens where an abused one can go to feel safe, to start picking up the pieces and look forward to a better life.
That option is not available in this country. The island does not provide such a haven. We are still in a society where things like these occur and a blind eye is turned. It is time to break the silence. Marriage does not mean a lifetime shackle if it is an abusive one. For some, unfortunately, it begins long before that. How many young girls do we know who suffer at the hands of their boyfriends? And how many times do we see them going right back and continuing the relationship, hoping and praying it was a once in a lifetime event, and then, not leaving the next time because of fear of being alone or because of embarrassment?
While there is obvious need for good role models and an active educational campaign against abuse, it is also time for those in power to take these issues seriously. Steps need to be taken to provide some sort of safety for our abused women and children. Not just promises, but actual help. Our officers of the law need to be properly trained, and strong disciplinary action needs to be taken on those very officers when it turns out they are also abusers. A community needs to know that they can rely on those whom they are supposed to trust to keep them safe. When it turns out that they are part of the problem, confidence is rocked. Make it right, and confidence returns.
Are you ready to break your silence? Are you ready to lend a hand? It starts small, but slowly, surely, we can all make that difference, and create a better place and environment for our growing children. Let’s begin…now. Stop the abuse. NOW!
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