Raped, ravaged and roughed up by the justice system
Monica Artherina* had just graduated from university in 2013 and was fine-tuning arrangements to take up a few job offers overseas when her life started taking a turn for the worse.
She not only failed to secure the overseas job, but in the process of seeking spiritual help to get answers for why everything in her life was turning upside down, she was raped by a stranger she thought was a Christian, and then roughed up mercilessly by the justice system.
"I was in a serious state of depression, my bills were piling up and I had my son to take care of, and I could not see a way out. I was watching the TV one night when I saw a bishop on it, and from what he was saying I thought I really needed deliverance.
"I woke up the following morning and decided I would go to Kingston to find this man so he could pray for me," said the Manchester resident.
Monica, who had no money at the time, called her mother, who was in May Pen, Clarendon, to lend a helping hand and took the first taxi she could find to head to her mother.
"When I came out of the taxi from Mandeville in May Pen, I heard somebody calling out to me but I kept walking, I wasn't paying anybody any mind. The person continued, trying to get my attention, but I kept walking.
"What caught me was when he said, 'You nah pay me nuh mind but God send me to deliver the word to you and if you go in one more vehicle you a go crash and dead because duppy a follow you'," recounted Monica.
She said continued to walk, determined to get to her mother but stopped when the stranger said, "You suppose to go foreign and you never go. You never wonder why things nah happen fi you? You leave school and nothing nah happen fi you."
According to Monica, the man identified himself as "Pastor David something" and claimed he was from a Pentecostal church in St Mary.
At that point, she questioned if this chance meeting was God's work and allowed the man to talk to her.
She told him she needed to get back to Mandeville to pick up her son, and he told her there was a lady in Mandeville who could pray with them.
Upon reaching Mandeville, Monica said the man took her to Villa Road where he said the lady was at a church waiting.
But as they walked he pressed a metal object to her side and led in her into bushes where used condoms and wrappers littered the ground.
"When I saw this I thought this is where I would be killed. He told me to bend over ... ," said Monica as she recounted details of her rape.
"When he was done, he poured a liquid in the used condom and he had several small bottles of oil, he put it in a box and threw away the box. He said if I told anybody anything he would know and he would kill me because he was not a Christian but an obeah man," Monica told The Sunday Gleaner.
She said the following day she put all the pills she had in her house together and was planning on ending her life when she received a call from a friend who is a cop.
He realised something was wrong, and after she recounted her ordeal he put his colleagues on her case.
According to Monica, her report to the police was first met with much cynicism and she felt more like a perpetrator than a victim.
"It was after doing a rape kit that the police began to believe what I had told them because the doctor said she had seen similar cases present at the hospital. The rapist was allegedly caught in the act in another parish when he was arrested and taken into lock-up."
Monica said it was during her court appearances that she faced even more aggression and cynicism.
"I was asked to tell the court what the man had on the day in question. I could not remember and everybody was on me and I broke down. I remember the judge saying, 'I don't know where you work miss communicator, but it seems like you are the boss there but I am the boss here'.
"I felt like I was the perpetrator instead of the person who was raped. I cannot forget the man's lawyer, who was pregnant at the time. She stood up and she said, "Your Honour, I put it to you that this lady is lying. She is a teacher and university graduate. Are you telling me that this lady could be so gullible?' Those were her exact words that keep ringing in my head even now.
She said her life has not been the same since the 2013 incident.
"The fact that I am crying so much in this interview means I have not yet healed, and while people will continue to question how a university graduate could be so foolish, I will say to them, unless you are in the position, you will never understand."
According to Monica, it wasn't until after her attacker was found guilty and sentenced earlier this year that the system started treating her like a victim.
Her attacker, Baldwin Hyman, was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison when the case was completed in Manchester Parish Court recently.
He was also sentenced to 15 years for a similar offence in Clarendon. The sentences will run concurrently.
*Name changed on request.