Sat | May 8, 2021

Abuse survivors urge victims to leave

Published:Monday | April 19, 2021 | 12:14 AM
Renay Robinson
Renay Robinson
Abigail Malcolm
Abigail Malcolm
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Following the social-media scandal and assault saga stalking Westmoreland Central Member of Parliament George Wright, two domestic abuse survivors are urging victims to leave their abusive relationships.

Abigail Malcolm, councillor caretaker for the Cornwall Mountain division in Westmoreland, and Renay Robinson, president of the People’s National Party Youth Organisation’s Westmoreland Central division, shared their tales with The Gleaner days after taking part in a series of protests against violence against women in the parish on Friday.

The demonstrations were held in Savanna-la-Mar and Whithorn, where the participants called for an end to violence against women.

In her at-times emotional testimony, 32-year-old Malcolm said that abusive situations often start small before snowballing into a mountain of rage. Victims, she said, tend to ignore early-warning signs.

“It starts from some simple things that we turn a blind eye to, but there comes a point when your cup is full and you have to move on. It takes a weak man to hit a woman,” Malcolm said bluntly.

Robinson, 26, likewise said that it was better for abused partners to leave the perpetrators of abuse.

“There is a certain potential that you have, and staying with these persons, it is like the situation is crippling you, and you think this is good enough and you do not deserve better. But if it happens the first time, walk away,” Robinson warned.

Fresh national attention was drawn to gender-based violence after the video, in which the man is shown slapping the woman and hitting her with a stool, went viral. Wright was subsequently identified as a person of interest in relation to the video, with the Jamaica Labour Party announcing that he was expected to withdraw from the Government’s parliamentary caucus.

NO CHARGES

However, the police later announced that they had closed the case, as Wright and Tannisha Singh, who had made separate reports about a physical altercation, both indicated that they no longer wished to press charges.

More than one in every four women in Jamaica has experienced intimate-partner physical and sexual violence in her lifetime, while one in four has experienced physical violence alone at the hands of a male partner, a government study released in 2018 revealed.

World Health Organization data also suggest that COVID-19 lockdowns have increased women’s exposure to abusive partners, while limiting their access to necessary services.

Malcolm said she began her seven-year-long relationship with her former abuser in 2013. At that time, she saw no signs of trouble until the bonds grew closer.

Her lover, she said, became increasingly possessive.

“It was pretty good in the beginning, but then things changed after a couple of months, where he became aggressive and ignorant, and I could not attend certain events if he was not there.

“On one occasion, I was beaten so much that I could not even feel my own body,” Malcolm told The Gleaner.

One particularly traumatic memory Malcolm recalls was when her then partner almost strangled her while in bed one night.

“We had a family reunion, and we came home, and he said we needed to go to bed. I remember going to bed, then I felt a hand around my neck, and he started to squeeze my neck and I was battling to breathe,” Malcolm said.

“A neighbour came and asked if I was okay, and my partner said, ‘Yes, she’s just sleeping,’ and at that point I was almost a dead woman in the house.”

Robinson said that her relationship descended into a spiralling torment of tempers and physical fights.

The first instance of violence was sparked during what she described as a “simple discussion” which telegraphed that her partner had anger issues.

“I can remember it was him squeezing my throat, and then he apologised and said it was not going to happen again, but it happened multiple times after that,” she told The Gleaner.

“Once, he cut the back of my ear while we were fighting, and the first thing he said was, ‘Look at what you made me do!’ And when my mother saw the plaster on my ear afterwards, she broke down and started crying.”

andre.wright@gleanerjm.com