Paradise Lost by Bianca H
I am a proud Bahamian woman and am not afraid to speak up against injustice. This is why it was so shocking to me when my paradise home let me down during the darkest time of my life.
I became a part of the domestic violence statistics on February 13th 2015 at approximately 3:30pm on Lovers Beach in Eight Mile Rock. This moment in time seems to be etched in to my brain. This is the moment when my boyfriend Stephen decided to viciously attack me. An attack which nearly cost me my life.
Stephen repeatedly struck me with a steel baseball bat. There was not a soul in sight yet I yelled for help with the hope of someone hearing me cry.
There had been threats and arguments but I never expected for this to happen. Confused as to why I was being attacked, I realised that if I didn't escape he'd likely kill me. I fought him off with a few rocks. By doing so I was able to break away and ran towards a two story building across from the beach.
My blood was covering the steps as I rushed up the hallway in severe pain and anguish. I saw my attacker homing in on me and panicked. I banged on the first door I could reach and an elderly lady stood in the hallway yelled at my saying "Who are you?'. I explained myself and begged her to hide my from my attacker. I owe her my life for doing so.
Arriving at the hospital I waited for many hours before being seen by a doctor. I was shaken with fear and covered in crusty dried blood. I needed 24 stitched and they put my arm in a cast. I was released in the middle of a night, a shadow of myself.
A week later I went back to hospital as things didn't feel quite right. The attending doctor informed me that a mistake had been made and I shouldn't have received a cast before undergoing surgery. And that's the point when it hit me. The trauma, the emotion, the anger and the anguish. Everything came crashing down on me and I began to cry. I had never slept in a hospital before and now I needed surgery to heal from a vicious attack. Since then I have four pins and a plate holding my arm together.
I provided with an expansive list of evidence against Stephen. This included x-rays, pictures, threatening voice and text messages, and a doctor's report. Despite all this the court treated me like I had wronged him.
It felt like a sick and twisted reversal of roles. I wasn't allowed to speak and made to feel guilty for what I was doing. The judge had my car repossessed and given to my attacker as it was still registered in his name. I was spoken down to, yelled at and felt like my right for justice had been taken away from.
Despite my persistence for justice my attacker was let off with a fine. A small slap on the wrist was all he received for trying to take my life. This blatant disregard for justice shocked me to the core. The Judge, along with other officials in charge, treated my domestic violence case as if this type of behaviour was normal and my life had no significance. He even encouraged us to reconcile.
It is behaviour like this that stops so many women from speaking out and encourages them to return to their abuser. In the Bahamas, like in most countries in the world, we have a shocking death toll when it comes to women losing their lives to domestic violence.
Since then I have been campaigning for tougher law enforcement in regards to domestic violence. I spend my time helping women escape from abusive relationships and it's brought great sense to my trauma.
I have been free from my toxic abuser for over five years now and feel amazing, and I'm grateful for every day that I am alive.