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A survivor of domestic abuse, who did not want her identity revealed, spoke with Guardian Media about the violence she endured during the COVID-19 lockdown and how she managed to flee.

Very early into the four-year relationship with her former boyfriend, she became a victim of domestic violence.

Abuse, she endured until December 2020, when she just could not take it anymore.

“He cursing you, hitting you, slapping you, put heater in your face. I go through all these things and I can’t take it no more,” she said.

This was approximately nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic last year and according to this survivor, who for fear of her safety asked us not to reveal her identity, the violence towards her intensified during the lockdown.

“It start for like (sic) Christmas time. One minute he good, good and a few seconds he just turn,” the woman shared with tears in her eyes.

She told Guardian Media that her then partner worked as a taxi driver and she could tell, even though he would not communicate with her, that the reduced passenger capacity mandate implemented at the time affected his income.

She believed he took out his stress on her, physically.

“He have to pay bills, things to buy. He don’t talk, he keep it to himself and then in that time whatever he think, he take it out on me,” she said.

The survivor said the breaking point was when he took away her plate of food while she was eating and threw it away.

“That day when he did that, I realised that all what I went through with him, all the things I take from him it ain’t (sic) turn out to be good, so I just decide that day that I need to come out of that relationship,” she said.

According to United Nations (UN) Women, since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.

It refers to this issue as the “Shadow Pandemic” and said this emerging COVID-19 crisis needed a collective effort to bring it to an end, as domestic violence shelters and helplines have reached capacity.

One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner and here at home, with the launch of the Gender-Based Violence Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service over a year ago, officials have noticed an increase in Domestic Violence reports.

In 2020, the Unit arrested 283 people for Gender-Based Violence, 368 were charged. This year (January to April) there were 89 arrests and 123 charges.

But for this survivor leaving was not that easy.

“At the end of the relationship he said he going and break up my hand and foot and put me in a wheelchair,” she said.

At this point of the interview, she started sobbing uncontrollably and we stopped recording so that she could compose herself.

We also spoke with her at a pavilion in a savannah because she was afraid that her surroundings might identify her.

Being forced to leave her Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) job last year, she turned to family members for help but that too was a challenge.

“I mean when you in that type of relationship you need somebody by your side and they know that I going through it and like nobody don’t care,” she cried.

She said since then she has been looking for a job but with no success.

The survivor told us some family members find it hard to take in another person, especially during the pandemic. It’s reasons like these she said she kept going back to the abusive relationship.

“But being there in the house everybody saying ‘why she have to come back here, what she doing here’ like I must stay there and take what I have to take…’Oh she come here to eat food and she not working,” she said.

The survivor said based on the comments, she no longer took food from her relatives.

She said she now resides in a dilapidated family house with no electricity or furniture and said some days she only eats bread and drinks water.

But even with all those challenges, she is happy she no longer has to endure the beatings, verbal abuse and fear.

She is adamant about not going back to her former abuser.

She hopes to get a job.

“I don’t want no money,” she said.

She said she just wants to get back on her feet.

Anyone willing to assist this survivor can call her at 330-2881.

Anyone currently facing a similar situation can make reports to the GBVU by calling 999 or National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800- SAVE (7283).