Mines started in the pit of my stomach. Always.
No...it started in my mind first then slowly crawled its way down and landed hard and often fast, into my stomach. There it sat and gnawed...and reminded me that I was not in control of my own life. Hadn't been for a very long time.
Each time I read of a new murder or murder/suicide that involves spouses or family members, I wonder first about the victim's level of fear just before their deaths.
It may seem a morbid thought, but it was my reality for the better part of 10 or more years of the 21 years of my marriage.
Protection Orders come with a different kind of fear. The fear that daring to oppose our abusers, whether estranged or not, will trigger a violent or fatal reaction or attack .
You see for victims of domestic violence and abuse, letting go of that fear, means taking back our control. The thing is, my country, Trinidad and Tobago had not found an effective way to allow victims to become survivors until several years ago when a conversation begun regards the implementation of GPS tracking devices (bracelets).
However, that's what it seems to have stayed, just a conversation and many lives have been lost and traumatised since then. Our statistics hasn't shown any sort of tangible decline. In fact, our attorney general, Faris Al Rawi, in April, while in parliament (Cabinet) discussions on the Electronic Device Bill, said the Bill had been there for consideration since during the period 2011-2015.
We are in 2020, which begun with several domestic violence related deaths.
Presently, my country's full focus, rightly so, is on the pandemic, but last week a special reserve police officer stabbed and slit the throat of his estranged wife. The couple had children.
The headline said he "smiled" while killing her. A follow up story had a relative speaking of the abuser's emotional trauma throughout the relationship, effectively condoning "victim blaming".
My thoughts had immediately gone to her level of fear when she realised he had murder on his mind.
Is this a sign that I still suffer with PTSD. Maybe.
For me its a reminder that i too was a victim and still live with my ex husband's shadow over our lives.
What people don't understand is that victims don't want to stay victims, but they do not feel that any of my country's existing mechanisms, laws, or polices actually protect them from the reach of their abusers.
I CANNOT stress the need for the passing and full implementation of the Electronic Bill in my country. This Bill has the ability to chase away fear and be the first line of defence for victims. It has the ability to deter repeat offenses and if it includes a Victim App Alert and MANDATORY rehabilitative counseling, as I have been lobbying for, it will save and positively change lives.
It is being used, effectively, in other countries, such as the US.
Sadly, parliament has been dissolved due to upcoming elections (August 10) and with it the passing of that Bill.
In the meantime victims across the nation stay rooted in fear.
Suffering in silence, their stomachs knotted in fear, hiding it well, as I did.
"Girl you certainly hid that well," said one social worker, who happened to be a friend.
She had known me by then for over 10 years.
Another woman, the founder of a domestic violence non governmental organisation, saw my fear once in full bloom.
She had offered me a lift home and my puppet master was at home keeping tabs on me on his phone.
I gladly accepted, but wasn't aware she was going to take a longer route, which meant it would take longer for me to get home.
It was only halfway there and stuck in traffic that i realised what she had done and I knew this was not going to sit well with him.
A long story short, I prayed in mind, while my fear grew every minute I got closer to my home.
His mind processed me getting home outside his timing as me possibly being unfaithful. When he had those kinds of thoughts, it did not auger well for me or my children, who was more exposed to seeing physical violence than it being perpetrated on them.
His violence on them was more of an emotional and psychological one.
I Thank God that we no longer live in such a direct, toxic environment.
What is extremely disturbing to me right now, is the knowledge that, my country and whatever government that has been in power for possibly the last 10 years, has sat on an effective means of decreasing the statistics of murders stemming from gender based and domestic violence and abuse.
I can only pray now that come August 11, whatever party takes office, enforce the protection that will come with the passing of the Electronic Device Bill and give victims a real chance at not having to continue to suffer in silence, as I and several others did for years.