by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 02 November 2007)
I grew up with a mother who physically, mentally and verbally abused me and I could never understand how neighbours and family members could allow it to happen without doing something about it.
I lived in the city where the houses were very close together, so I know my neighbours heard the abuse. One time after I started dating my husband, I left a pair of heels in his car after church (I switched into flat shoes to hang out), so he decided to bring them to me since he had just dropped me off.
My future husband heard my mother’s abuse from outside the house and ran for his car as fast as possible. I had an aunt and uncle who lived on the first level of our house (we lived on the second level) and aside from my aunt yelling up the stairs a time or two for my mother to “leave that poor girl alone,” no one ever lifted a hand to help me.
Oh I had friends at school who would see the bruises and fingernail marks in my skin and swear they were going to call the newly introduce abused hotline, but I usually begged them not to do it because I was sure that I would be even more abused in foster care.
I did go to one place for help. I went to my pastor’s daughter and told her I needed someone to stop my mother from hurting me, but no help ever came for me. The church did nothing to stop my mother. The neighbours did nothing. My family did nothing. The law did nothing.
As a child, I never understood how the world could look on and watch this horrible scene and do nothing to help a little girl. I grew up to be the type of person who would never stand by and allow someone to victimised a helpless person.
One of the most troubling news stories this week is about a mother who was repeated stabbed by her husband and left for dead in the presence of her three children (who was also the father of the children). At face value, this story is so sad.
However, the story is not about a man who broke from the demands of life and killed his wife because he could not handle the pressure. It was obvious that this was not the first time this poor woman had been victimised by her husband.
The Kaieteur News report from October 29 quoted a neighbour as saying, ““We didn't hear nothing last night because of de wedding house music but even if we did hear we woulda think that is de normal beating.”
The normal beating?
Here are some of the things neighbours said this woman experienced from her husband. The relationship was an abusive one with constant fighting almost every night. The husband had previously threatened to kill her. He tied a rope around her neck, dragged her down the stairs and forced her to lie in an ants’ nest. He beat her so severely recently that it put her in the hospital.
Which begs the question, if the neighbours knew full well what was going on in that house, why on earth did they do nothing to help the woman? There was one report that the mother was an alcoholic. Does that mean that she does not deserve to be protected from such horrible abuse?
I can tell you with a clear conscience that I looked for many ways to escape my abuse as a child. If alcohol were readily available for me, it would have been an avenue I could have explored to find a way to pretend my life was not as dreadful as it really was.
I do not blame the woman for trying to find an escape. However, where was her family to get her out of that abusive house? Why did the male neighbours not visit this house during one of the beatings and tell that husband to stop beating his wife or they would give him a beating?
Yes, I know the woman should have left the man, but until you are in an abusive relationship, you cannot imagine how twisted things get in your head and how a slap across the face can seem justified or look like love. A normal person would never see a slap as type of love. Only an abused person could make that misinterpretation.
Moreover, the woman may have felt trapped in the abuse if she did not have a way to make money to feed her children. For whatever reason, this woman did not leave the abuse and no one rescued her either. And now she is dead.
I cannot help but wonder how many people tonight will listen to a woman being beat and do nothing to help. How many other neighbours will ignore the yelling and the cries of pain as they mark it off as just another “normal beating”?
There is nothing “normal” about one person beating another person. In such a situation, one person needs to be rescued and the other needs to be arrested. Edmond Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
In this case, evil triumphed because good men did nothing. A woman died because good men did nothing. Three children are orphans because good men did nothing. But guess what? One evil man did plenty.
He allegedly stabbed his wife over and over in front of his own children and then left those poor kids with their dead mother for hours in a dark house.
No one saved me from my mother and no one saved Kamal Doonwah from her husband. Good men did nothing. I just want to know when good men will start doing something. Can someone please tell me?