16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence: “I didn’t hesitate to jump off my verandah to save my life”

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…woman recounts how she ended years of abuse
…seeks counselling, financial assistance

On a night in last September, Evadney decided she had had enough of domestic abuse, and told her husband she planned to move out of the matrimonial home. He grabbed a knife and ran towards her menacingly, but within seconds, she leapt over the verandah and disappeared from the scene.

That was how Evadney spent the last night in her home with her husband of 19 years. The duo had lived at their home in the North West District as a happy couple, but as the years went by, her husband became abusive towards her in the presence of their 5 children.

She told this publication that she had been a school teacher all her adult life, while her husband worked within the community wherever he could find a job. Over time, the man became so controlling that, when he arrived home, he would verbally abuse Evadney whenever he asked her for his food. She noted that as time progressed, he started to hit her, and on several occasions this year, she had moved out of the home after experiencing such ordeal.

“I made up my mind, because I had enough, “she said.

Over the years, the man would use explicit language on a daily basis whenever he consumed alcohol, and in the presence of the children, he started making threats on the woman’s life. One night in September last, a similar ordeal occurred, and it was then that Evadney decided she had had enough.

The night of the ordeal

It was after 22:00hrs on a Wednesday night, and the community was quiet, since most persons had retired to bed. A loud commotion was suddenly heard at Evadney’s home, and her neighbours became curious, since, unlike previous occurrences, the woman went out of her home to seek help. Evadney was seen struggling to stand up in her yard, and she cried out in pain as she tried to use her hands.

Evadney recalled that her husband came home late that night, and, as usual, he asked for his dinner. He was intoxicated, and started issuing threats towards her. She said she looked him straight in the eyes and told him she had had enough of his behaviour, and that she would be moving out. But he paid no attention; he continued to order her to prepare his food, and demanded that she accompany him to take a bath.

“He said if I ever decide to leave, he will kill me, and he also said he can do things to me because he knows people who does obeah,” she said. She said that on previous occasions he would make similar threats, and after he had become sober the following day, he would usually be quiet and peaceful. However, she said, she could not live that life anymore.

“He cannot be doing that all the time and he does not work. So, is not like he going to work and helping me financially,” she said.

The man continued hurling threats at her on the night of the incident, Evadney said. She was in her room when he came towards her and slapped her on her face. She said he then threw her to the floor, but one of her teenage sons came to her rescue and grabbed his father by the waist.

She said she pushed her husband aside and told him he was “disrespectful” and “unfaithful”, and she also reminded him that he does not take care of her and the children. She said she was angry at that point, but the man continued to hurl threats at her.

Leapt off the verandah

Evadney said she then went into her living room and sat on a chair. She continued to vent her anger towards her husband, and she recalled telling him that they have big children. She told him that he could not be “wrong and strong” in the home, and that she was going to move on and leave him behind.

She said he then ran into the kitchen, and she saw him emerge with a knife. She said she was still sitting in the chair when the man pushed the knife towards her, but she ducked. Her son who had come to her rescue earlier grabbed his father, and as she looked up, she saw the blade of the knife once more, but she also saw at a glance that the door to the verandah was open. She then ran towards the door and jumped over the verandah.

“I didn’t hesitate to jump to save my life”, she said, noting that she heard her son tumbling with his father in the bedroom.

She said that both of her hands were fractured. Her left wrist felt the brunt of the impact and a bone protruded from the wrist. She said she felt a numbness in both hands, followed by searing pain.

As she got up from the ground, she said, her neighbours came to her rescue and wrapped her wrists in cloth. Someone then called for a taxi driver, who took her to the hospital for medical attention. She was admitted at the hospital while doctors X-rayed both of her hands, and according to her, both hands were wrapped in bandage after the doctors had attended to the left hand, which she reiterated was badly affected. She said she is right-handed, and according to her, has no feelings in two of her fingers on that hand.

Family support

She said the family from which she originated came to her aid, and she moved in with her mother, who would cook for and look after her children. She said her children had to feed her over a two-month period, since both of her hands were wrapped in bandage.

“My mother would ensure they get a meal,” she said, noting that she decided to move out of her home since she was fearful that her husband would kill her. She said the man has since moved out of the area, and the Police have issued a warrant for his arrest. The matter is expected to be called again in court in January.

Being a trained school teacher with years of experience, she applied to the Ministry of Education for a transfer from Region One to Region Four, and her request was recently granted.

Evadney has said she has no intention of returning to her matrimonial home, and at the moment, some of her children are staying with her immediate relatives while some are with her. She is working to bring all of them to the city with her, but she noted that adjusting to life here is difficult, and it is even more challenging since she still cannot use her hands.

She said that earlier in the year, after years of abuse, she made a conscious decision to move on, and in September, the situation had reached a boiling point. She said that in the moments leading up to the incident, she had decided that her husband was no longer worthy of her.

“I always thought that one day I have to move on with my life,” she said. In addition, she said, she had never thought of leaving the children behind. “I always wanted them to be next to me,” she said.

She said she is currently recovering from the mental abuse, and noted that her children are also recovering from the ordeal.

“We need help,” she said, adding that she has marks on her skin to show years of abuse.

She said she is now adjusting to life on the Coastland, including paying bills, and this, she noted, is proving burdensome on her. She said she would also be grateful for counselling sessions for her and the children. “All of them were affected, so they need it,” she said.

Evadney noted that other victims of domestic abuse should pay attention to their own wellbeing, and according to her, the better option is to move on from an abusive relationship.