Last week at the Medulla Gallery, Maria Reyes Franco spoke freely about her role as an independent curator and art historian in her native Puerto Rico, and more specifically about her role in...
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Being hit by a stone was Maxine’s ‘last straw’
The last straw for domestic violence victim, Maxine Gonzales, was when a man in her life pelted her with a big stone and hit her on the head. Public relations officer for popular casino, Ma Pau, Gonzales said she was talking with a woman on the street outside her home when the stone hit her.
She “lost” it at that point. “I ran up the hill, got a knife and slashed the four tyres of his car and told him I will put the knife through him.
“He ran to another car and began to drive. I jumped on the bonnet with the knife and held on while he drove for one mile on the main road from Factory Road, Diego Martin, to the West End Police Station.” Gonzales, 41 now and in a good place, said when they reached the station, in the presence of police officers, she tried to stab the man.
“All the officers tried, they could not take the knife from me.” They finally managed to do so and led a hysterically weeping Gonzales into the station. Another time she was beaten with a cocoyea broom while she was six months pregnant and humiliated in front of people. And one time during a fight with him, she rolled down a hill.
Gonzales said she left that terribly abusive relationship “by faith and not by sight” and said her wish is to empower other women trapped in the same situation.
“I want those in domestic violence situations now not to think that it’s the end for them, that they are trapped.
“They can get out. They must be willing and with God’s help, it can happen.”
Gonzales said she suffered several years of abuse before she was set free.
“If you don’t know how to come out, how to fight it, you will be trapped.
“We allow men to get into our minds and break our self-esteem. They use this strategy to keep us under their control.” She said she was constantly beaten and ridiculed and told she was uneducated and a dunce. These memories still hurt. Crying as she recounted her past, Gonzales said he beat her for no reason.
“One time I asked him to turn down the television and he grabbed a cocoyea broom and hit me across my face, breaking my nose, and on other parts of my body.
“I was carrying my first child inside of me.
“Another time, someone gave me two gallons of water and he was pulling it out of my hands.
“I let go and fell and rolled down the hill and ended up near a neighbour’s yard.”
Gonzales said she held on to the relationship thinking he would change.
“I used to read about the virtuous woman in the Book of Proverbs and I felt if I was like that he would marry me.” She said she met him in her late teens and saw his abusive tendencies but ignored them.
“Once, while we were courting, he drove off while I was still coming out the car and I nearly fell.
“I ignored it because I felt I loved him.”
Gonzales said throughout the ordeal she never let go of her faith in God and prayed constantly to be set free. She empowered herself by reading books, including one titled, Mind, Character and Personality by Ellen G White.
One day, with a breaking heart, she walked out and never looked back. Her heart broke because she had to leave her three children behind.
“I knew he would have used the children as an excuse to follow me.
“Also, they were more comfortable at his home than where I was going.
“I think I left by pure faith and not by sight, knowing something will work out for me.” Gonzales said she keeps in close contact with her children. She took time off and spent precious moments with her son after he graduated from high school last week.
“I took him to lunch.”
She said Ma Pau, its employees and others helped her along the way.
“Sherry Persad from Ma Pau’s human resource department encouraged me to go to school and do various courses.
“Ma Pau paid for them all.”
“Glen Le Fook and Brian Lezama, two businessmen, also helped to empower me.
“I have recreated my life.” Gonzales said.
“I am still working on getting to a good place spiritually and hope to get there.”