When I was 14, my mother was murdered by a “don”. Most of my friends know this, however, let me tell you a part of the story that is rarely spoken about – the reason the Police took so long to respond.
Growing up, my mother was the parent least present, she lived in a few different places including other countries and being the youngest, I jumped at the chance to live with her when I was 12 and she was finally “stable”.
It was great, my sister and I shared a room, I started to learn about my mother who had been but a visitor in my life up til that point. I learned that she loved to cook, and she was good at it. I learned her habits, the sound of her laughter, her smell. I learned that I could always be honest with her, and what she thought was appropriate behaviour.
When I was 13, she got a boyfriend named Ricky, who moved in. I did not like him at all, but I chalked it up to being a jealous kid who just wanted a parent that was there. I pretended my gut didn’t have instincts.
Ricky was a deportee and a recovering addict who missed his flashy Miami lifestyle. When he was sober, he could be decent, but in general he was just unhappy with his life. The entire time I knew him, he cycled through addiction and recovery, violence and laughter, depression and joy. Was he evil? No, but he was broken in ways I am still unable to fully understand.
Ricky and my mother fought A LOT to say the least, and there was violence. Violence both verbally and physically. There was hitting, choking and death threats. Did my mother just take it? Certainly not, that’s not who she was. Victim was not a word one would use to describe Valerie, but victim she was.
I distinctly recall an incident in which he hit her, and I stepped in asking who does he think he is to lay a hand on my mother, his response was to raise his hand at me. My mother looked him dead in the eye and said if he ever dared touch me, he would die that day. A few days after that, he threatened to kill her, her response was “I dare you to try”.
She was someone who showed no fear, but she was still a victim of Domestic Violence. The police had been called many times to the house. They had taken statements, held Ricky in lock-up, tried to have her press charges. All for naught, she was planning on marrying him that May anyway. (She marked it on her calendar as “D-Day”.)
My mother taken him to rehab, to church, to counseling, trying to help him. Most of this was at his pleading request after he had been kicked out or found himself waking from an overdose. She had hope for him to end the cycle in his life (and ours) but it did not happen.
On the day my mother was murdered, she shouted the name of her murderer over and over as he held up the household and massacred both her & Ricky. She called out his name so loudly and in such a manner that the neighbours kept calling the police to come. This was at 7:30 in the morning. The police did not arrive until 11:00 even though the station was less than 5 minutes away.
They did not take the call seriously, they thought it was just another “Domestic Incident” where a couple were arguing. Both my mother and Ricky were murdered that morning.
Many women AND men stay in situations like this. Many Christians stay because they think leaving is betraying their vows. Many stay because they don’t think they can survive without their spouse. Many stay because they are ashamed to let anyone know. Even more stay because they think there’s hope and it will get better, statistically it won’t.
Domestic violence ends in two ways, either you leave or you die. You can’t stay in the same place and change at the same time, and neither can an abuser. Keeping them clothed, fed, or housed while they hurt you is not helping them, it is enabling them. Don’t keep yourself in the cycle, get help.
October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month and the month of my mother’s birth. If you or someone you know needs help here is a number to call:
(876) 929-9038 – Jamaica;
0808 2000 247 – UK;
You were made for a better life than to be abused and mistreated by anyone.