Are You Gonna Shut Up|Speaking Out in The Barbadian Culture Of Silence

As time passes, the abuses I’ve suffered become more real. The PTSD that I experienced throughout the ordeal has subsided somewhat and my hope in sending this update is to be able to clearly articulate what caused me to become outspoken about child abuse and domestic violence in the Caribbean.

I have evidence and hope that I submitted it in a clear enough manner that maps out a trail of violations to my human rights by the government of Barbados. In a culture of abuse toward women and children where dishing out lashes is welcome and left up to the discretion of persons in authority such as men to render to suit the safety of all people is risked. Many of these abusive men hold positions in the community and government where women and children’s voices are furthered silenced by discriminatory and stigmatizing attitudes. The resulting behaviors are a cause for social concern. The negligence expressed in addressing Barbados’ abuse of obligations to international treaties has been very disturbing as well. Without outside intervention it’s impossible to inspire and effect change in a culture so deeply rooted in pain.

This culture of abuse gave birth to the man who abused me. Hurt people, hurt people. This man abused me at will as if he had been programmed with instructions for how to torture another human being. What was his home training? What messages had he learned in his home and culture about women? These are the types of questions that would haunt me intellectually as I continued throughout 2015 asking myself what happened to me. After choking me I remember a conversation where my abuser, Antonio Rudder, asked me did I not see it coming. He wondered how I could know he was angry and yet not know that a physical attack would soon accompany that anger. Well, in my cultural experience I wasn’t taught that lashing people was normal. If someone acted inappropriately using abuse or neglect as a tactic I grew up knowing there was a protocol for consequences. I reflect today on how heartbreaking the truth can be. Truth is in a culture where people ignore one another’s pain routinely, my sporadic call for help would go unanswered as apart of this systematic abusive response.

Left traumatized and fearing for my safety, I found myself at the mercy of a court system lacking in fairness on the victim centered aspects of such cases as mine. This hints of how much prejudices about people have more weight before authorities than the real person and their testimony. The police force is just as abusive as Antonio and I was backed against the wall with no where to turn.

Barbados lacks the adequate resources to address the needs of victims of domestic violence and I suffered gravely when seeking a way out of the cycle of abuse.  There is so much victim blaming and bullying that scars and torments people who come forward to address concerns. Recommendations for change have also been made by other countries across the world. All of these things are on the public record. Issues such as the ones mentioned here have been documented by international agencies.  Barbados and Antonio are on the record and have made it clear that by delaying the process and miminimizing the degree of violence I experienced, I will just succumb to this subtle form of neglect and bullying by remaining silent.

It’s been almost a year since the last time I lived in Barbados. Antonio, focused only on his survival, found ways to advance in his cause. I, focused on creative activism, found my voice. This voice cannot be choked out, silenced by the passing of time, ignored by the irresponsible, or killed by the delayed responses to all that I have spoken. It’s never too late for justice. I wont ever shut up until all that is just in my case penetrates the surface of neutrality. I won’t ever shut up just as sure as the voices of children and women surviving abuse and exploitation will echo a common discourse. We will tell our stories as if our lives depend on it. Self expression is apart of our emergency response system and in 2016 we will be more vocal in using it. Sound the alarm.

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