16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence: From 36 years of abuse to a life of peace – domestic violence survivor tells her story

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By Solomon McGarrell

Women are oftentimes deemed to be the backbones in their relationship, even if it is to their detriment, all in the name of love for their children. This love in a majority of cases forces women to endure years of abuse at the hands of beloved partners.

This is the identical life story of the domestic abuse victim, 54-year-old Esther Gobin, who recently shared her life story with this publication.

Gobin related that when she met her reputed husband, she thought to herself that she had found “Mr Wonderful”, but little did she know, behind that charming man lay an abuser who could not contain his deception of portraying a loving persona and quickly snapped out of it.

“He treated me nice for the first, about a year after having our first child, he began hitting me whenever he drinks alcohol,” she related.

Abusing her physically was not enough for him, he then turned to the innocent children. “He would usually beat me up and them girls and then put us out,” she recounted.

The mother of six children said she endured 28 long, hard years of abuse with fear that if she walked out, her children would punish and wanted to have them grow with their father, with the hope that he would someday turn his life around. As life unfolded, this proved to cause more harm than good.

“My children kept me back, I didn’t want to have them punishing, I always wanted them to grow with their father but he could have never changed. I had six children to take care of and found it difficult to move on because of my financial situation. Yes, it affected the children, he made our big daughter get away with a boy, our second daughter drop out of school. All of our children except one, finish school.”

The woman, who lived some 15 years in Calcuni, a village in the Upper Berbice River, Region 10, recalled that throughout the years she would have only made two reports to the Police regarding her reputed husband’s abusive act against her and the children, but this proved futile since he would go into hiding before they arrived at the village.

She later moved to Kwakwani, the heart of the sub-district, with her abuser and children. Although the Police station was just a stone’s throw away, the abuse continued but she opted not to make any reports, out of fear that her children would punish if she set foot out the door.

Recounting her life, Gobin said she and her children would go the extra mile just to make him happy and to assist in putting bread on the table. “Myself and them children would work with him in the bush, deh struggling with him and he would still beat us and put us out. I used to be going to family members and spend a two day and go back, because I couldn’t have afforded it,” she related.

Enough

Christmas is the time when families would usually get together and have a merry time, but in Gobin’s case, it was time to hit the road without a worry about her two youngest children’s future, “I had enough; it was a Christmas eve when he came home drunk and began cussing up and I just walk out the door without looking back to this day.”

She related that she moved to a relative’s house but not without difficulties since she and her children had to live in separate places until she was able to get a place of her own.

Gobin said she worked two jobs to maintain herself and her 14-year-old son – with one salary for herself and the other was sent for her then 10-year-old daughter, who was at another relative’s house outside of Region 10.

When she thought she was finally out of what she described as “the pit of hell”, her ex-reputed husband utilised every opportunity to beat her down.

She said he reached out “plenty times and begged me but I don’t want that anymore, I had enough.”

Life on her own

Gobin explained that life with her children away from what they once knew as home “is nice”, but her wages were not sufficient to cater for basic needs and send the children to school and they dropped out of school without having the opportunity to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate.

“When I moved on, it was nice, I use to work, but I couldn’t afford to send them (children) to school. When I would go and ask him for money to take care of them, he would say is your children, take care of them. My daughter dropped out at fourth form; she could have made it at CXC; she was never a dunce child.”

After many years of slaps, cuffs, kicks, being put out whether it rained or not and the hard work, Gobin revealed that she recently suffered from a stroke but this has not severely affected her mobility.

Life of peace

After stepping out the door some eight years ago, she has managed to rebuild her self-esteem and moved on to another relationship which she described to be the opposite of what she endured for 28 years. “Life is very nice now, at least I don’t get licks or get bad treatment,” she confidently and happily stated.

She said she would encourage persons to muster up boldness and get out and not think they cannot make it on their own.

The happy couple constructed a home and operates a shop at the area.