A brutal awakening – The escalating nature of domestic violence
According to one writer, “love shouldn’t hurt, drag you through an emotional roller coaster or leave you feeling like less of a person.” However, this is perhaps how being in love had left Tiffiney Jackson feeling, after years of verbal abuse and an attack last year which nearly claimed her life.
The perpetrator, Sheldon Braithwaite, was once her true love, or at least so she thought; he is the father of her five-year-old son.
Though they never shared a home, for the four years that they were together as a couple, there was always verbal abuse, Jackson recounted during an interview with this newspaper recently.
This, the 28-year-old recalled well, was almost always fuelled by alcohol which Braithwaite would normally consume copiously. But never, not even in her wildest dreams, did she envision being physically abused by the big-built Braithwaite whose profession as a miner and mason added considerably to his physique.
She had always been petite but had an attraction for the muscular man.
About five months prior to the physical attack, Jackson revealed that she had officially put an end to the relationship in light of Braithwaite escalating anger spells. “I broke it off for good; it was a definite something. We had had many incidents where we quarreled but I didn’t want any more of the drama.”
At the time she was attending the Cyril Potter College of Education. “I am a woman with a thinking brain and I am not afraid to object or express my opinion and there were times when he reacted as if he was intimidated by that…I am academically more qualified than he is…so maybe that got to him.”
Having severed the relationship, Jackson said that she decided to stay away completely from the man, not even encouraging any conversation he initiated. However, this did not stop him from being a father to his son, as according to Jackson, “He was a devoted father…himself and our son they had a very good relationship. In terms of material things he always provided for him. I had to do nothing when it came to that aspect of our son’s life.”
In a bid to ensure that the relationship between the two remained normal as far as possible, Jackson said that she agreed to allow Braithwaite visitation rights; only allowing him to visit their son at her home during the day.
The couple resumed what Jackson described as “amicable communication” during the visits. But it was September 25 last year that any possible attempt of reconciliation was completely shattered when according to Jackson she was brutally violated in her Goed Fortuin squatting area home by Braithwaite.
“It was a Sunday; I remember it so well because I was preparing for College…He came at night to see our son and I objected because that was not the arrangement…”
It wasn’t long after, Jackson said, that she realised that Braithwaite was under the influence of alcohol and appeared bent on finding out about her personal life. He even started to question their young son in this regard and dealt him two blows about his head after the child was unable to provide him with information about one of Jackson’s male friends.
Jackson recounted that her elderly father was at home at the time and they were all under the assumption that Braithwaite had left after a bout of verbal assault. As such she neglected to lock up as she was at the time ironing some clothes.
The attack was sudden, unexpected even, but was very much within her son’s line of vision. “My father was at the back…my son started screaming, ‘Daddy, daddy please leave my mommy’.
“This man just spun me around; I was consumed with shock and fear at the same time. I had an iron in my hand and I did nothing to defend myself.”
According to Jackson she observed that Braithwaite’s right hand was behind his back and suspected that something sinister was afoot. Before she knew it “he just slammed a full bottle of beer to the right side of my forehead. I instantly felt this striking pain and the pieces of shattered bottle fell to the floor. You would think somebody took a sledge hammer or something and crushed the bottle.”
The impact caused the retina in Jackson’s right eye to become detached. The nerves in her eye as well as the vascular were damaged as well.
Blood flowed uncontrollably from the resulting wound as Braithwaite with little or no remorse made good his escape. “Before he fled he stood at my door and I remember looking at him out of my left eye and I saw no sympathy or remorse, just satisfaction. It was as if he didn’t care.”
She was rushed to the hospital and would remain hospitalised for a number of weeks. Nothing could have been done locally to fix the problem and plans were soon streamlined for her to seek medical attention in Trinidad.
In excess of US$8,000 was expended for the relevant operations to help address her injury. Though she is practically blind in the right eye and has a scar that will constantly remind her of the attack, Jackson revealed that the course of justice has so far been inaccessible.
She revealed that after being on the run since the incident it was only last Monday that Braithwaite turned himself into the police in the presence of a lawyer. He appeared before Magistrate Nyasha Williams-Hatmin at the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrate’s Court on Thursday last and was released on $100,000 bail after denying a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm upon Jackson.
That matter is slated to continue on April 15.
Meanwhile, Jackson’s attempt to secure a protection order is still to be realised. An application to this effect, according to Jackson, was taken to court in early January but was rescheduled due to the fact that Braithwaite was on the run at the time.
But even as her matter is pending in court, Jackson has joined forces with advocates against domestic violence, the likes of Diane Madray and Stella Ramsaroop, as part of her efforts to help other abused women understand that they do not have to endure the scourge of domestic violence which in many instances end in death.