Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 15th 2015 Contents BOBIE-LEE DIXON
What makes a woman plot her escape
from almost 30 years of violent domestic
Perhaps the thought of her name prema-
turely appearing in the obituaries section of
the daily newspaper?
Gail Gopaul-Crawford s doctor assured her
she would be another statistic if she did not
get away from her abusive husband, correc-
tional officer Carl Aaron Crawford.
The two met in 1983 at a night club in
Santa Monica, California, after the then 18-
year-old Gopaul-Crawford migrated to the
US to further her studies. A staunch Catholic,
the former St Joseph Convent girl and daugh-
ter of the late St Elmo Gopaul---founder of
the T&T Teacher s Union (TTTU), now called
T&T Unified Teachers Association
(TTUTA)---was a sheltered, naive young
woman with little relationship experience.
Enchanted by this man s smooth talk, good
looks and charm, Gopaul-Crawford soon fell
in love and after just two months of
courtship, found herself pregnant. Being
pregnant and unmarried was against her
family and religious values.
Instead of lending his support, the man
Gopaul-Crawford adored gave her US$250
and dropped her off at a clinic to have an
abortion and also bid her goodbye.
Stunned and confused, she sat outside the
clinic weighing up her options before deciding
to contact her mother Monica for advice.
Her mother told her in no uncertain terms
that she would be disowned by her family
if she went through with the abortion.
Gopaul-Crawford went back to the home
she now shared with Crawford.
"He asked me if I got rid of the baby and
I said no and I am not going to. So pick your
poison, either you stay or leave."
Crawford then said: "I guess we will have
to get married then."
But Gopaul-Crawford didn t want to get
married because she didn t want him to turn
around one day and say he only married her
because was pregnant. The couple eventually
got married in July 1987.
In 1984 she gave birth to her son Michael.
Today, he is a clinical forensic psychiatrist
who played a pivotal role in helping her
escape from domestic abuse.
Physical abuse begins
After Michael s birth,
noticing changes in her
"He would cuss me out
for no reason and call me
all sorts of derogatory
names," she said. "My hus-
band was a functioning alco-
holic. At the time I did not know
or recognise that. So whenever we
went out, he would have quite a
few drinks and when we got home
he would just go into this mad fit."
She related the first time he struck her. "We
had just returned from a party. All was well.
He was a gentleman all night. When we got
home, I put Michael to bed, then I noticed
Carl was reaching for another drink from our
mini bar so I asked him if he didn t think he
already had too much to drink. Well that was
the mistake I made."
He struck her so hard she ended up on the
living room wall. In disbelief Gopaul-Crawford
went to her room, curled up in a fetal position
on her bed and cried herself to sleep.
Meanwhile, like the classic abuser, Crawford
sought to quell the disturbance with love-
making, an apology and a promise that he
would never hit her again.
After that the beatings became regular. She
was kicked and choked, thrown her out of
moving cars and was even the victim of spousal
rape on many occasions.
Gopaul-Crawford had several trips to the
hospital emergency room where she would lie
to doctors about how she sustained her injuries.
Pointing to the right side of her nose, she said:
"I have to wear special make-up to cover this
scar. Carl almost bit it off."
The beatings also resulted in two miscar-
"As an officer s wife I was also at a great
disadvantage," she said. "Many times when I
called the police, they would come and just
ignore me once they knew it was Carl. One
even told me Carl is one of them and they had
to protect their own."
Gopaul-Crawford eventually had a second
child, a daughter whom she named Michelle.
Unlike her older brother, Michelle was exposed
to the violence meted out to her mother by
"My son was like my protector. One time
he walked in when Carl was just about to
punch me in the face and he grabbed him by
his shirt collar, jammed him up against the
wall, and told him if he ever put his hand on
me again, he would kill him. I think Carl feared
But when her son left home to attend a uni-
versity in San Diego, there was no one left to
protect her and many beatings would take
place in full view of Michelle.
"Both my kids are doing well. Michelle is
studying psychology. But even today I live in
constant fear that Michael may become an
abuser like his father and Michelle, a victim
like her mother," admitted Gopaul-Crawford.
No easy way out
But why did she stay that long? She had an
MBA, a good career, she was financially stable.
"My kids," Gopaul-Crawford said. "Nobody
could have understood why I was living in this
nightmare. I had friends and even family who
said so many negative things about my staying.
Abuse is not only physical, that s sometimes
the least of it. But the emotional and psycho-
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
A former state prosecutor who
secured a civil rights injunction against
a young Mark Wahlberg after he
hurled rocks and racial epithets at
black schoolchildren says he shouldn't
be pardoned for attacks on two Asian
men two years later. Judith Beals, a
former Massachusetts assistant
attorney general, said Tuesday she
believes in "forgiveness and
reconciliation" but Wahlberg's request
should be denied because he hasn't
acknowledged the racial element of his
crimes in documents he filed with the
state last November.
"That acknowledgement of the
crime and that facing of history is
absolutely critical in the issuing of a
pardon," she said.
Wahlberg, who became a rapper and
then an A-list actor nominated for an
Oscar, acknowledged in his pardon
application that he was high on
marijuana and drugs at the time.
Representatives for Wahlberg,
whose movies include Boogie Nights
and one Survivor, didn't return
messages seeking comment. (AP)
Ex-prosecutor: Don't pardon Mark Wahlberg for racist attacks
Continues on Page A34
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