Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 29th 2016 Contents BOBIE-LEE DIXON
ourty-one-year-old Camika Mc Letchie holds a
bachelors in psychology from the University of St
Andrews and is now about to do her masters at
the Caribbean Nazarene Collage in Santa Cruz.
A clinical therapist by profession, it is not a
surprise she has decided to study and work in this field.
Her life experiences attracted her to this vocation because,
she said, she needed to help those being held captive by
masters of abuse.
The mother of seven struggled for most of her life with
abuse. She was raped twice as a teenager by people she
trusted. When she finally thought she d met her "knight in
shining armour" in her husband, that turned into a nightmare
as he abused her physically and sexually for their 14 years
For Mc Letchie, many were the years she thought she was
responsible for all the abuse she endured.
"I used to think that I was doing something to make this
happen to me and in some way maybe I deserved it," she
told the T&T Guardian.
She never told anyone about the sexual
violations by both rapists in her youth.
Instead she grew a hatred for men that
in the end only affected her more than
she thought her "righteous anger"
would have helped.
"I wanted to hurt men the way
they hurt me. I thought
I could, so I
At St Georges College, where she spent her secondary school
years, she moved from being a very quiet student to an uncon-
trollable rebellious teen. To this day Mc Letchie said she still
wonders why none of the teachers tried to find out what was
going on, particularly because of the extreme transition.
"They never asked me. I was too ashamed to talk about it,
but I was screaming out for help, through my actions, and
no-one heard," Mc Letchie explained.
She continued, "I got a lot of static in school because people
started to say things about me and some of my teachers told
me to my face such bad things that it further damaged my
She said her then math teacher even called her a whore in
front of the entire class and told her that she would amount
"This really hurt me. And I would skip math class just to
avoid being embarrassed. On the outside I would seem tough.
I would answer back the teacher; but inside, I was dying with
the reality of what was happening to me."
Mc Letchie said she just wanted to die and prayed many
times to God to take her life. She attempted several times to
take her own life but each time she said she just could not
go through with it.
To ease her pain, Mc Letchie began writing poetry and
spoken word. "It was my only way to talk freely about the
"I remember one of the poems was so sad that the
school s guidance counselor asked my mother if every-
thing was okay, and of course my mother being obliv-
ious to what happened, said yes."
Toward the end of school, Mc Letchie attained the
title of poet of the year---a competition held at the
And despite the tumultuous years, she graduated
with six O level subjects---maths included--- with good
grades (ones and twos).
A little over a year after secondary school, Mc Letchie
met her former husband. Fooled by his seemingly caring ways
at first, she fell for his charm, only to regret it in the years
"I thought he was my knight in shining armour. He looked
out for me; made sure I was safe. He was seemingly over-
caring." Mc Letchie became pregnant at 19 and after six
years of dating, they became married, and stayed married
for 14 years.
During the courtship before the marriage, though, Mc
Letchie admitted there was a lot of verbal and emotional
abuse. She also experienced physical and sexual abuse.
"I continually tried to fix things. I continually took the
blame. I felt, again, I was the one causing it.
"I kept telling myself maybe I should not have answered
him like that or asked him anything."
It was while doing one of the courses for her BSc, titled:
Family Violence Across the Life Span, that she finally came
to terms that she was in fact the victim and not the perpe-
"The lecturer was discussing the traits of a perpetrator
and those of the victim and what an abusive rela-
tionship looks like. And that s when it really hit
me," said Mc Letchie.
When she decided to end the marriage, it was not easy, Mc
Letchie disclosed. She had to file a restraining order as her
husband would threaten her and stalk her.
While she would have rather moved out of the home she
shared with her husband, she stopped sleeping in their bedroom
and even contacted a shelter, but they could not take her with
all seven children.
"There were times I would wake up and see him sitting in
a chair holding a knife and just looking at me. I was afraid.
But through the years and having no one else, I developed a
relationship with God. So I learned to trust Him and put my
faith in Him and believe that what I was going through and
had gone through all these years would soon be over, and
there was some good reason for all of this happening to me,"
said Mc Letchie.
It s been three years since her divorce was finalised and she
gained full custody of their children
Mc Letchie said once the divorce was over, she tried to pull
her family together. But it was challenging at first. Her children,
having witnessed the abuse for so long, developed certain
behavioural patterns. Her eldest son became very angry. And
as Mc Letchie says, she believes they blamed her. She says:
"My children are better now because I continued working
with them and they are all doing so well, but by the grace
Mc Letchie is in the process of writing her first book based
on her life. She hopes that through each chapter, others will
be freed. Soon she will celebrate the launch of her NGO called
Rise: Woman Rediscover your Strength. It will be in support
of victims of abuse.
Asked what she took away from her life experience, Mc
Letchie said: "There is no excuse for abuse. With the help of
God I have forgiven those who hurt me, and that s the only
way I could have been healed."
Alaska's largest city is home to
more than 300 grizzly and black
bears and now more than a dozen
Life-size bear statues painted
by city artists, part of Bears on
Parade, are popping up as they're
completed. They're part of a con-
tinuing effort to raise awareness
that if you live in Anchorage, you
live near bears.
"The whole point of this was to
engage in conversation about
bears and their habitat---the food
that they eat, where they live,"
said Brenda Carlson, who helped
organise the program.
Carlson is visitor services direc-
tor for Visit Anchorage, the city
tourism marketing group. She's
also a member of the state De-
partment of Fish and Game's An-
chorage Bear Committee, dedi-
cated to bear conservation in the
The city covers 1,958 square
miles but people occupy only
about 204 square miles, accord-
ing to the department. The rest of
the city includes national forest, a
state wildlife refuge, 55 to 65
grizzlies and 250 to 350 black
Bears can be deadly if they're
surprised. To minimise maulings,
the committee tries to educate
people about how to live with
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Colourful bear statues spring up in Alaska's largest city
Domestic violence survivor:
Camika Mc Latchie will soon
be giving domestic violence
victims another pillar of
support when she launches
her NGO Rise: Woman
Rediscover your Strength.
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