A rape... and redemption

Monday, April 30, 2018

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This is part three of the story of a woman who says she has finally found the strength to talk about the abuse she endured from an early age, surviving horrors unimaginable to today becoming a manager and CEO. Though she still doesn't have the courage to reveal her identity publicly, she hopes that her story can encourage others who are hurting, that there's always hope at the end of struggle and heartache.

MY next step was university. Just the thought of this seemed ludicrous, as we didn't even have the $500 for the application form at that time. However, we went and sought help and I took out a loan and I was accepted into The University of the West Indies (UWI). If I thought I was hungry in high school, then I was definitely starving at college. I spent most of my days crying and wanting to give up. I did poorly in my first year as I was absent and too hungry to study most of the time.

Soon my grandad fell ill and things took an ugly turn. The extended family wanted me out of the house and I remember my grandma telling me that it was best if I left. One evening I went home and the door was locked. I knocked and called but no one came to the door. Though angry at first, I acknowledged that I was indeed, at 20 years old, an adult, and I needed to leave.

I stayed outdoors for a while, and one time I was awakened by slugs finding a warm spot on my feet. One night it rained so hard, and I remember singing this song, This is my desire to worship you. I reached out to my youth director to ask for a night's rest and she told me it would not be good for her marriage. I then reached out to my pastor who used the opportunity to play on my vulnerability and offered to take me to a hotel. I finally realised that I had nowhere to turn except to a man who had always been friendly with me, and who offered me a place to stay. I finally gave in. He moved me into this house far into the bush. I had no idea these places existed in Jamaica.

The man became my only friend. I remember one night he brought home a fried chicken meal for me. After eating and drinking he turned out the lights. I asked him why he did that, and he said he would put them back on soon. He started to make advances and I begged him to stop. He raped me that night. I remember vomiting, but he continued. After the act I washed myself over and over so many times. I cried until my tears were dried up. But as I didn't have anywhere else to go, I had to remain in the house and eventually I stopped fighting and just lay there whenever he came.

Soon after I started to realise strange things happening to my body and I decided to go to the health centre. When I got there and explained my symptoms they decided to run some tests. One test revealed that I was pregnant. I did three more tests that day in disbelief.

I first thought about doing an abortion, but I could not go through with it. I told the man about it and he did not have much of a reaction. Soon he fully embraced me as his common-law spouse. By this time I realised that my only hope to escape was to finish college.

I had received a letter from the dean that, based on my poor performance, I may not be able to continue at the university. By this time I had totally cut off communication with the church, family and friends. I remember calling my mother and telling her how much she had failed me, and that she was the cause of my problems.

I went to see the dean to beg for a chance. I was granted an opportunity to continue on the basis that I had to perform well. Despite my pregnancy, I picked up the pace as I would not fail my child. Studying became a part of me and my grades reflected this. I made it through university on loans, grants and side jobs.

At this time I did not want to hear about God, church people or any of that. But I soon realised that I needed a plan to get away from the man. I decided to put my pride and anger aside and called my grandma to ask her for three months' stay in her house. By this time I was eight months pregnant. I needed one month to have the baby and two months to both recover and find a place to live. She was happy to hear from me, asked me my address, and in about an hour a cab was on the closest main road waiting for me. The man could not believe I was gone and he told me I would soon be back because my family would turn on me once more.

— Next week: Blessings,finally

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