Mon | Mar 30, 2020

Kimberly Dawkins survives eight years of torture

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2020 | 12:08 AMVanessa James - Outlook Writer
Kimberly Dawkins, Miss Supranational Jamaica 2019, tells the story of how her past has influenced her to create a women's mentorship programme called Red Flower.
Kimberly Dawkins, Miss Supranational Jamaica 2019, tells the story of how her past has influenced her to create a women's mentorship programme called Red Flower.
Kimberly Dawkins, Miss Supranational Jamaica 2019, tells the story of how her past has influenced her to create a women's mentorship programme called Red Flower.
Kimberly Dawkins, Miss Supranational Jamaica 2019, tells the story of how her past has influenced her to create a women's mentorship programme called Red Flower.
Kimberly Dawkins, Miss Supranational Jamaica 2019, tells the story of how her past has influenced her to create a women's mentorship programme called Red Flower.
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Life is made up of experiences, some of which shape the person you become. Simply put, these experiences make or break you. There are those among us who have had to live through some of the most horrendous encounters but, fortunately, have come out stronger.

Meet Kimberly Dawkins, a licensed registered nurse and the reigning Miss Supranational 2019. Her story started at age eight, a time that is etched in her memory because of what was happening to her.

“I grew up in a house with just two rooms in the Whitfield Town community. We had an outside bathroom and an outside kitchen, and it was five of us as kids that my parents had,” shared Dawkins.

She explained that the property that her house was on was shared with another family as they both owned the land. As a result, both families were very close.

“I don’t remember when it started, but the reason I remember that I was eight years old was because at that age, I had umbilical hernia and had to have surgery,” she said.

The ‘it’ that Dawkins was referring to was being sexually molested by a trusted family friend.

Living situation

“With our living situation, it was literally only those two rooms. Mommy and Daddy slept in one room, and then all five of us children shared the other room. When we were younger, all five of us used to fit on the bed because it was a really big bed. However, as we got older, Mommy had this comforter that we would spread on the floor and then take turns sleeping on the floor,” she recounted.

She said that with their living situation, an agreement was reached with the family friend, who had more space. In the arrangement, whoever was supposed to sleep on the floor that night would instead sleep at their house.

“I remember some of the times when sleeping over, I would wake up and he would just be standing over me, or I would feel him quickly removing his hand out of my clothes,” Dawkins shared. “I would call out his name and say something like, ‘What you doing?’ and he would run out of the room.”

This went on for a while, until Dawkins had enough courage and decided to take action at age 16.

“When I was 16, I came home from school one day, and I was using the bathroom because I think I was on my cycle and feeling a lot of pain. I was reacting to the pain, and I just heard a voice say, ‘A rod yuh belly want rod out’, and I ignored it,” Dawkins recalled. “From I heard the voice, I knew it was him, and all I said in my mind was, ‘Jesus Christ!’ Before I knew it, the bathroom door was opened, and he was standing in front of me with his penis in his hand. He repeated the same disgusting words: ‘A rod yuh belly want rod out’. I called out his name and said, ‘In the name of Jesus, move from in front of me!’ I said that about three times.”

Dawkins shared that after this rebuke, the man left the bathroom and she decided to share with someone she trusted from her church all that had been happening over the eight years. This led to her telling the pastor of the church, and a meeting was called.

Dawkins had to face her abuser, recounting all that had happened to her and enduring being called a liar by him.

She used her pending Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams as reason to go live with her grandmother, and that is where she stayed until she went to the University of Technology, Jamaica, where she studied nursing and started the campaign to help others.

“Leaving high school and going to college, it didn’t really have much mental effect on me anymore because when I started university, I immersed myself into several community projects and groups. I got involved as much as possible, and I think that helped,” Dawkins said. “It’s like at some point, it’s not that I forgot, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind anymore.”

Dawkins recently launched the Red Flower, which she said is a forum that represents the uniqueness of the female body and focuses on empowering and mentoring young women. This comes on the heels of a very involved four years at university.

“These women may or may not experience low self-esteem or self-confidence issues, but we want to have an impact on young women so they can believe in themselves, understand themselves, have self-respect, so that’s the baseline for Red Flower,” she explained.

She explained that the forum focuses on the principles of respect, empowerment, and discipline. The Red Flower forum was launched in 2019, and Dawkins states that she is looking forward to continuing the project and assisting even more women to cope.

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com