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Jamaica: Land of Abuse and Silence?

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Over the past week, I’ve been hearing a lot about abuse. Dexta Dap’s new song “Breaking News” (see below) seems to be indicative of a trend that seems to have a strong hold on Jamaican culture, but is often never talked about because of its ugliness in nature. The truth is, though – a lot of Jamaican men and women have been victims and perpetrators of different types of abuse, and it shows. (N.B. Please – don’t poison him.)

The more I discover how normalized domestic violence is, the more I wonder what is really taking place in our homes. We cry about a country that seems to be going backwards and isn’t a “real place”, but I can probably count on one hand the families I know that have no toxic relations happening within them. Excuse my bluntness, but now rape tends to be normal; killing a woman who “dissed” you seems to be  just about fine; and even if no one gets physical for fear of being judged as a “woman beater” (because “men beaters” don’t exist), we have mastered verbal abuse to the letter. I never even understood that emotional abuse was a thing until 2 years ago.

In my messages, I tend to discuss all manner of topics with my friends and associates. One friend had this to say: “Our development is really incomplete. Our parents try to shield us from the dangers of this world because they think we can’t handle the difficulties, but then we grow without developing that sense of independence that would allow us to handle these situations properly. People go through all kinds of abuse and crises at a young age and aren’t emotionally prepared for the results. Those older than us try to warn us about what is ahead, but they often lack experience in dealing with these things as well. Then, when we get older we realize that just having a career or relationship will not be enough to fix these issues, and we end up damaging our prospects or losing what we have because of these unsolved dilemmas. We have to practice to make emotional and mental choices while being aware of their potential consequences, or we won’t be able to align our experiences with what we have been taught.”

The truth is, I’ve gone through my own share of abuse in a relationship. But what gets me more is how addictive it was to be the abuser. It really did feel good. The power and reassurance I got from being in control at the expense of someone’s physical and emotional pain led me to continue my toxic behavior. I gave myself permission because I thought I deserved to retain control over the situation. Was it wrong? Yes. Was it due to my own insecurities and mismanaged flaws? Definitely. But was it worth it? Not at all.

Communication must be key. I’m sure that in a place where we take everything for a joke, many will laugh at these notions, and won’t pay too much mind. After all, we’re not ALL abusing each other, right? Cool. But I’m learning that the people we’re in contact may feel very differently about the situation, and either haven’t brought it up for fear of bringing down this exact abuse upon themselves, or don’t know how simply because not all of us learn to use our voices to articulate what we deserve.

That is, if we even know what we deserve.

Blessings in abundance!




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