The first time Sherika saw Tony she had no idea the future they would have together. She worked at a local restaurant, and Tony would stop by on occasions to have lunch. Sherika was a beautiful, brown complexioned twenty-two-year-old working in a busy Jamaican restaurant. She was accustomed to getting attention from the male patrons and even a few women. At first, she didn’t think much of Tony; He was just another man chatting her up while he ordered his ‘fry chicken with curry gravy.’ Nevertheless, Sherika enjoyed the attention and compliments she received from Tony. In no time Tony started ‘putting argument’ to Sherika, and it became pretty clear that he was interested in more than what was on the menu.
A few months passed and Sherika stopped working at the restaurant. One day while doing some errands, Sherika ran into Tony on the road. He expressed how he noticed she was no longer working at the restaurant and that the food didn’t taste the same since she left. Sherika knew he was just ‘sweet talking’ her, but she couldn’t help but smile. They chatted some more, with Tony ‘lyrics-ing’ Sherika every chance he got. After buttering her up for a while, Tony asked Sherika for her number, and she obliged. As far as Tony was concerned, his mission was accomplished. They went their separate ways, but it would not be long before they would ‘meet’ again.
Tony and Sherika consistently communicated on the phone. He told her how she was a ‘pretty little flower’ and how he would treat her like a queen if she were his girl. Tony was eleven years older than Sherika, he had a job, a car and a place of his own. All things that Sherika didn’t have, but craved. The more they talked on the phone, the more intense the conversations grew. Pretty soon Tony was telling Sherika all the things he wanted to do to her and how he could make her feel like a woman. Sherika wasn’t sure what to make of Tony and his advances, but she was willing to find out. After all, he was attractive.
Sherika was feeling special; Tony had invited her out to dinner. She had never been asked out to dinner before, at least dinner that wasn’t the fast food variety. Tony picked her up in his Honda motor car, but it might as well have been a horse-drawn carriage. As they sat and ate under the Kingston sky, live music playing in the background, Sherika thought how lucky she was. Tony was the perfect gentleman; he ensured that she was comfortable and told her she could have whatever she liked. By the time they left the restaurant, Tony had Sherika wrapped around his fingers. He invited Sherika back to his place, and she agreed without any hesitation.
The next morning when Sherika woke up in Tony’s bed, she realized that her fairytale night was not a dream. For the next couple of weeks Sherika was living the dream, she thought Tony was ‘the sweetest person she ever met.’ One month after her fairytale night with Tony, Sherika was pregnant. Like a lot of Jamaican women before her, that’s when the problems in the relationship started. Sherika had left her parent’s house to be with Tony. Their relationship moved from a bright sunny day to a dark stormy night. They argued incessantly, nothing Sherika did was ever good enough for Tony. He would often put her down and make her feel small. He would verbally and emotionally abuse her; sometimes the abuse would get physical. Sherika wasn’t allowed to have friends or go anywhere without Tony. When they went out, Tony would blatantly flirt with other women. He told her he didn’t show her love and affection because he didn’t want her to think she could do whatever she wanted.
While living with Tony, Sherika found out that he had two other baby mothers, one of them lived overseas. Tony didn’t support any of his children and was also verbally abusive to his other baby mothers. One day Sherika searched Tony’s phone and found out that he had cheated on more than one occasion. She found text messages that showed that on one occasion while she was still pregnant and visiting her mother, Tony had sex with another woman in the house. Tony would also have inappropriate communication with his ex-girlfriends, co-workers and whoever else showed any interest.
As it drew closer for Sherika to give birth, she hoped that their newborn would breathe new life into their dying relationship. That was not the case, the baby girl who Sherika cherished, brought new problems to their relationship. The baby meant more responsibilities and expenses and with them living together, there was no escape for Tony. Sherika was now entirely dependent on him, and he knew this. She was unemployed, and she had a young baby to support. Tony had almost entirely isolated her from the outside world. She was still able to visit her parents, but either out of fear or shame, she never uttered a word about her relationship problems. Sherika suffered in silence, some mornings she sat and cried and wondered what she did to deserve this. She knew that if she left Tony, he wouldn’t support his child, and she couldn’t take care of the baby on her own. She was trapped!
*Sherika is still with Tony. Check back for part two.
*Sherika and Tony, not their real names.