I had a deja vu moment today and it lasted about half an hour.

That was the length of time it took for me to see a young woman in distress, holding a young baby, with her six year old daughter following behind. She is walking with quick steps, trying not to cry but wanting only to get away from the man who is causing the pain. She has long brown hair, pale skin still not used to the Caribbean sun, tall, leggy with beautiful grey eyes and would certainly make any man look twice. Her babies were clearly from a black man and he was following unsure of what to do, trying not to show his anger because by now a whole bunch of women are looking on, all of us ready to pounce on him if he had dared to stop her.

It was one of those moments I was tempted to get back into my car and just press the gas.
His bare feet told me what he did for a living. I guessed he worked on the beach with the jetskis and turns out I was right.

I walked off to collect the package I was after and a few minutes later driving down the road with my girlfriend, we saw the woman and kids walking briskly.

Anger, pain and any intense emotion tends to make adrenaline flow and obviously hers was pumping, because we could not think of any reason she would have reached that corner two streets over from where we had first seen her without it.

We offered to give her a ride and when she got in the car and after more tears we realised she had been heading in the complete opposite direction from where she needed to be.

Between more tears and sobs, we found out she was from Canada and had only been on St. Maarten two months. She had sold her business to come to the Caribbean with her island man and now he was using all her money to run a jetski business with his brother.

She was now home with the kids, while he stayed out all day and night. The argument earlier the day had begun because she asked for money to buy groceries, to cook the food that he demanded she have ready every morning at 10am. She was washing clothes by hand, stuck in the house with a pregnant sister inlaw who was also being abused and feeling less than loved, less than human.

We told her the truth that she already knew. He was just showing her his true colors and that she needed to have a plan. He did not want her to work but she would need to if she was going to change her circumstance. We encouraged her to remember all of the things she had done in the past to get her to where she was today, able to sell a business and finance a new dream, raise her kids and adapting to a new country and culture.

We showed her where and how to catch a bus, she did not know the system. I told her to use her skin color to her advantage, if it would help her to survive. Unfortunately, even here she would have more doors open for her because she was white than I would if I needed to use color to get by.

In a time when a woman is trying to survive and save her children, all rules are null and void.
You realise you would do what was necessary, the things that society, family, even religion at times tells you is wrong, to survive. It is not that easy to be judgemental when you know what it feels like to have to make a decision to run with or without your kids or live one more day in terror, waiting for the opportunity to leave forever.

Every woman weighs the options, it is not as easy to just get up and leave. But it can be done when the time is right and your head is in the right place. It feels almost cold and calculating, because you are like a snake waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

You get up and do all the things your life and your man demands, with smile, with joy, with hope. Knowing that someday soon, you will be able to exercise your option to leave.

Getting rid of the fear is the biggest and hardest hurdle but once you do, you see that everything else is just a matter of time and all things will come as you patiently wait and pray.

REMEMBER – You always have a choice. You may not be in the position to see what it is or exercise it but knowledge that their is always a choice, will create the will, the ability and the opportunity to execute it at the most appropriate time.

I am praying for you Truly Caribbean Women.

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