Feeling free 25 years after rape
Haunted by a rape 25 years ago, a woman has returned to Barbados from the United States to finally confront her demons and report to the police the man who defiled her.
After visiting the spot where the assault took place for the first time since that fateful night, the woman told THE NATION she had finally come forward for her own peace of mind and to rid her body of the indescribable pain she had been feeling for so many years.
“I felt shame and embarrassment. I felt as if I was being raped all over again,” she said of the day three weeks ago when she walked into a rural police station and announced that she was there to report a rape.
It was the same police station she had walked past on that dreadful night after the man, who she called her “favourite cousin”, assaulted her on a dark and desolate road.
She was only 16 at the time.
She recalled that she had left home that night to meet her teacher and her best friend in Bridgetown so that the teacher could take them to see the Christmas lights at Bonnetts, Brittons Hill, St Michael.
However, the minibus in which she was travelling turned in to a gas station along the way to fill up and then broke down in Town. When she finally arrived at the meeting spot and did not see them, she thought they had already left, so she decided to go back home.
“I was standing in front of the bus terminal waiting for a bus when my cousin passed by with a man and asked me what I was doing there. I told him that I was waiting for the bus and he told me he going in Julie N’ Supermarket for a few items and then he going home. I opted to go with him because I knew them and he was the favourite one out of the brothers. He also lived close to me.”
He took home the man first, but drove onto a road she was not familiar with.
“It was a dark, bushy, road,” she recalled. “He pulled off the road and I thought something was wrong with the car, but he said: ‘Give me wuh you promise me’.
“I said: ‘Wuh I promise you?’ and he steupse hard and reached over me, pulled off my seat belt and push down the seat. I started to fight and he pull out this big long knife and put it to my throat. I could never get the image of that knife out of my head. The moonlight was so bright and the knife was just glistening. I fight until I feel like I was fighting but my body wasn’t moving. I felt like if I didn’t take a breath that I would die. He get up and pull me out of the car on the ground and that was when it happened. I remember it was very short, but I can’t remember he being inside of me; I just blocked it out.”
She also does not remember what happened after the act, but pointed out that he drove her to an area near to her home.
“I stood in the road and I could have gone left to the police station or gone right to my house. I decided to go to my teacher’s house. Going there was the only thing I could think of, but when I knocked and she opened the door she was upset that I had not met up with her, and I felt like I disappointed her, so I left and went straight past the police station and went home.
“I didn’t tell anybody what happened. I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone. I just went in the backyard and bathe and bathe and scrub and scrub, but I never felt clean.”
Over the years, she tried to forget the event, but would always have chance encounters with her cousin.
“Every time I saw him, I became emotional and I would try to kill him. I remember a time I saw him in Town and I took up a chair to hit him and my friends had to pull me back.”
She also started to isolate herself from people.
But it was the excruciating pain in her body that she has had to deal with for all these years that made her finally realise that it was connected to the trauma she experienced.
“I had this pain in my right side for years. It would radiate all across my pelvis and got me vomiting and got inside me hot. I went to doctors in Barbados. I even had a laparoscopy, but doctors diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome.”
Finally, her wife of two years convinced her to return to Barbados and deal with the situation.
“Early this year, I went into a deep depression. I felt as if I was at death’s door. My wife noticed the pain I was in and I opened up and told her what happened to me. She realised that I don’t forgive people; if anyone does me anything they are dead to me. She told me I need to let go and I have to forgive; I have to start to heal.”
Leaving the United States and coming back to Barbados to deal with this situation has also been therapeutic for her.
While she does not know if the police will charge the man who violated her, she said releasing the pain has been her victory.
“Some police officers told me the statute of limitation had run out, while others told me there was no statute of limitation on rape and murder. I felt as if some of the police were trying to discourage me from making the report by telling me that too much time had passed and there was no evidence, but I spoke my truth and I leave it in their hands,” she said. (MB)