Women must take responsibility for their lives by being alert to abusive traits by their partners in the early stages of relationships and finding the courage to walk away. And the first step to surviving and leaving an abusive domestic relationship is focusing on a relationship with God.
So advised Stacy-Ann Beckles, a domestic abuse survivor, speaking at a “Dynamics of Domestic Violence” panel discussion hosted by the non-governmental organisation, Women of Substance to mark Domestic Violence Awareness month at the Ann Mitchell-Gift Auditorium, Scarborough Library on Monday.
Beckles, who said her fight to leave an abusive relationship was a matter of life and death, recounted a harrowing life of sexual abuse beginning with her being raped at age 8, and again at age 13 by a neighbour who gave her $20, and where at age 14, she was not going to school but having sex with maxi-men.
Beckles believes she would have been protected from abuse as a child if more women in her community were concerned and intervened in her life.
“If we have more concerned women in the communities, we will have less domestic and sexual violence. We don’t have any more mothers, we don’t have the village growing the child because when I got abused no church held me; no one helped when the doctors confirmed the tissues in my right eye were damaged when I was beaten,” she said.
“The police did their part, but the guy tore up the restraining order saying he doesn’t mind the police coming for him. The church did their part saying, ‘sister pray’, they even tried to hide me but when he came with his firearms, the pastor handed me over saying he don’t want that problem.”
Beckles urged young women to be responsible for their survival by doing what is needed to be done to walk away alive.
“That is easier said than done because it is a fear, not only physical but emotional fear, that you won’t get that love again because he’s calling you every minute, you have a big house, you have the most gold and biggest ride another man won’t give you.
“In my situation everyone did their part but me; it’s not a blame game...
“I had pastor, police, army men who were abusive; you just need to be careful of the man you choose. I am here because I want you to go back to your community and your job (and be there) for that person who is being abused and try to help.”
“There are some who walk out of a domestic violence case with a limb less but there are many not as fortunate to leave alive. If God doesn’t intervene, then you can’t escape because I have tried walking away, hiding and seeking help but to my abuser I was a property he didn’t want to lose.
“I can tell my story over and over, we can have 10 more symposiums, the professionals can do their part but it’s always up to you to seek God’s assistance to get the strength and guidance to leave,” she said.