Tue | Oct 24, 2017

Unearthing the Diamond - The Tamika Williams' story PT II

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Tamika and Ian Williams in a playful mood at their home at Ahhh Ras Natango in Camrose, St James.
Tamika Williams, signs a copy of her book 'Unearthing the Diamond' for family friend Leroy Grey during the launch on the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Agaisnt Women and Girl on November 25.
Jamaica Public Service's parish manager, Rasheed Anderson, who has been adopted 'officially' by Tamika Williams and her family, pays tribute to the champion of a woman during the launch of her book.
A section of the audience listening attentively as Tamika Williams speak about her ordeal during the launch of her book - 'Unearthing the Diamond'.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Vivian, a former classmate of Tamika Williams, who is currently living in the United States, remembers the events surrounding Williams' rape.

“I am aware of this having taken place at school, and I for one, know it did happen. I am not sure of all who were involved, but I remember it being talked about by one of the participants who was there. He was ashamed of his actions that evening, and he cried as he talked about how he should have tried to rescue you, but he said they were like a bunch of mad wolves that night,” Vivian wrote in an email to Williams in 2009, after reading the first transcript of the book ‘Unearthing the Diamond’.

Vivian continued: “I actually know of other girls who went through the same ordeal, at least three come to mind readily, and I wondered how they are doing in life right now and if they have got a chance to heal, as you have.”

Vivian urged Williams, who is now married to the man who rescued her from living on the streets, to write the book.


Riveting story


“I could not put it (the transcript) down until I finished it. I can't wait to read the rest. The story is such an uplifting one that it has to be told, and retold.”

He was convinced that her writing the book would help with her healing. “My classmates and the world need to revisit this story which is repeating itself today, over and over. I am sure that some will draw strength from it and feel less alone in this somewhat cruel world we live in.”

Williams’ former teacher, then a very young woman when her student was raped on the school compound, has since rekindled the relationship, apologising for not looking outside the box.

“My teacher and I met again on Facebook,” said Williams, adding that they speak via telephone often.

“She has been to Ahhh (Ahhh Ras Natango Gallery and Gardens, where Williams lives with her husband Ian), several times,” she stated.

"It was after I was kicked out of school that she began seeing things differently and realised things weren't always black and white," said Williams.

Williams said she has loved her former teacher just the same, looked up to her and imagined she was her mom. “So it was not important to me when I found her to hurt her. When I wrote the book in 2009 I was so angry at her and all involved but she is now in my life and I hope she will still love me after this. But, I am steadfast this book is not about hurting; it's about stopping the hurt.”

The effort to put a stop to the hurt has also been embraced by sponsors of the book, the Jamaica Public Service Company Limted, according to the company’s regional director, T’Shura Gibbs.

Gibbs said when she received an email from Williams seeking help with the book, she became very excited. "Because what Tamika is doing through her book is to empower women to speak up about abuse and to know that they can rise above any challenge that they may face”.

Gibbs further stated that the JPS’ ‘Women In Energy’ (WIE) group headed by president and chief executive officer, Kelly Tomblin, is about empowering and supporting women to become the best versions of themselves.

“So the correlation was evident; especially on the heels of our upcoming WIE Conference in March 2017.  Tamika and her family operate the only tourist attraction this side of St James and as we continue to support the growth and development of Jamaica; we saw a partnership with Tamika and 'Ahhh' as a perfect match,” she said.

As for William’s husband, Ian, she credits him with her survival of the cruel act that changed her life and caused her to walk around with low self-esteem for years.

Ian Williams is humbled by references such as ‘Knight in Shining Armour’ that his wife uses to describe him and today, reminiscing, 40 years after meeting her he speaks about how her rape affected him.

Mixed emotions

“I had mixed emotions, anger at what was done to her. Compassion, at the thought of that happening to my two younger sisters one of whom was Tamika’s age,” he said.

“I did not have the resources to assist in the way I knew she needed but I was saddened at the suffering she had gone through for one so young. I really cannot explain it. She stormed into my life and I could not abandon her too. I thought I would help her till she could stand on her own but instead here we are  40 years later and she has both feet planted on the ground.”

He said he has no idea why she refers to him as her Knight in Shining Armour, but she insists he saved her. “But truth be told she does not give herself the credit she deserves.  I have seen her overcome so many challenges as a young person which would, even today break so many grown adults. Tamika still exhibits low self esteem. She hides it well form those outside, but with me she hides nothing. The tears, the mood swings and the need to make life perfect for others. She is one of the strongest persons I know. “

He said she has taken all the negatives in her life and turned them around.

“Being raised without her parents she insisted we raise our son together even in the difficult times. She gives me too much credit,” he argued.

“You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. This explains Tamika. She credits me for educating her. She chose to educate herself with my assistance.”

After Williams was expelled from school she would later became a teacher and principal by taking a series of courses.

Ian Williams said his wife also has a mind of her own and has learnt to trust her instinct again. “I think this has been the hardest part of being with her. She often relied on my instinct and not her own.  She now trusts her gut feelings and she is my diamond. She is my light.”

Asked if he ever thought his wife was tainted, having been raped by so many men, Ian Williams’ response was pointed and clear.

He said men who would look at her that way are some of the same men who will pay thousands of dollars to be with a lady of the night who has willingly been with hundreds of men.

“Here was a young girl with all the promise of the future, smart intelligent and beautiful, why should she be denied her chance at a good life? What did she do that was so wrong? As my brother 2000 years ago said: 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' We are all worthy in God’s sight no matter what. Even her abusers have a chance at redemption. We are all divine beings.”

He admitted that when he met the 15-year-old, he was not attracted to her because of her age. “I just wanted to help her. At the time I preferred older women. I was 23 years old.”

But, he said her eyes were so sad whenever she looked at him.  “Begging me to help her. It seemed the world had failed her and she was overflowing with all the emotions one could imagine.    The first time I saw her strength was when I informed her I was taking her back to her father as I was unable to provide for us and it ached my heart that she would go through further suffering being with me.”

Ruth's pledge

He said she sat at his feet in tears and quoted the scripture. “Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee. For whither thou goest I will go and where thou longest I will lodge, thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.”

The desperation, faith and love in her as she recited this passage from the Book of Ruth, he said, not only pulled at his heart strings, it opened his heart to loving her.

“No longer was it about helping her; from this moment it was about loving her and sharing our lives together.”

Tamika Williams officially launched her book on November 25, the day the United Nations dedicated to women and girls who are victims of sexual abuse.

Janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com