At the end of November 2019, I returned to Jamaica from Toronto which had frozen my nether regions off. Soon, something happened that changed my life.
It was a Monday evening, 9th December 2019. Maybe I thought criminals only came out on the weekends? I had been back for 10 days. I had signed my lease and moved into my cute little apartment. It wasn’t far to walk down to the hip strip tourist area and the beach. Coming back was much harder though, up a very steep hill.
I had been down at Cornwall beach near Sea Gardens hotel, chilling on the concrete wall overlooking the sea and hills that stretch towards Negril as the evening cooled. Cruise ships were still coming in, coast guard coming and going. The sea was dark and quiet.
It was now dark. I walked back with a friend to the bottom of the hill and then started up the hill alone.
It was one of those moments in life where I had always wondered what my reaction would be if it happened to me. Would I run? Would I fight? Would I scream? Would I freeze? What would my natural instinct be?
It’s funny how the memory works, or doesn’t work, in these situations. Parts of it are basically a blur. For example, I don’t remember how I got to the side of the road I was now on. Did I cross near where it happened, or had I already crossed at the lights to avoid walking past the two men sitting on the brick wall on the other side?
I had passed through the first part of the hill where there was a railing next to the road and I was in front of the Mt Alvernia kindergarten when I was grabbed from behind, hands gripping my upper arms.
In the split second it happened, I thought it was someone I knew playing a trick on me. When I turned my head slightly to the left and saw a face I didn’t know, a shock went through my body literally like a bolt of lightning.
Instantly, I turned to face the attacker, grabbed my phone with both hands and bent, bracing for impact.
I heard myself say “No Fucking Way!”
I had no bag, no purse and no money with me except $200JMD (not much more than $1US) in my phone case.
“Take her phone,” I heard. One of the men was moving away.
The other hit me and threw me down. I got up still grasping my phone with two hands. He threw me down again, this time by the hair.
I threw my leg up on the way down, kicking him in the head in a move I will always be proud of.
I landed on the curb on the base of my spine and hip. Then I’m up again. He has his arms around my torso and upper arms and we’re struggling. I’m kicking and doing my best to break free. I’m not making this easy. Beginning to think after what must have been 30 seconds or so, I start to drag him into the roadway so if a car came, he would have to let me go. A few seconds later, they started to move off and I heard myself screaming. I screamed louder and louder until they were gone.
Scared they would return, I hurried up the hill as best I could, shaken like crazy, numb and starting to cry, I knew there was some type of police station halfway up the hill.
It was a ‘Lottery Scam Police Station’ (that’s a whole other story…) and only one guard seemed to be on duty, but I told him what happened and he made a phone call. Some other police came. I told them what happened. No report was made. I was driven the short distance to my home. Nothing was done. Nothing came of it. I never heard back from them again. I wasn’t stabbed or killed so ‘whatever’ as far as they were concerned. They said they would find who did it. Nothing happened and I didn’t go and report it to the other police station the next day. Nothing would have happened anyway. I couldn’t identify the men or give a good description.
But I think I knew at least one of them.
The one who moved away was a street hustler I had not given $500JMD when he asked – about $3US. This was his revenge – attack. The next time I saw him, his usually friendly face was not and I just looked at him with an ‘I know what you did’ stare.
My escapade made me a little bit famous among the few people who heard about it. (Well probably quite a lot of people heard about it but I didn’t know them.) A lady who I had met before the attack and then bumped into in a supermarket soon afterwards told me that that area was notorious for similar attacks (no one told me!) and that in the weeks leading up to Christmas the likelihood of that type of thing would be greater than usual.
Her teenage daughter was very impressed that I had fought them off but the lady said I was lucky they didn’t have a knife or the story would probably have been a lot different. She told me that soon after she had come to Jamaica many years before, she had been robbed while in a car and had run away scaling a wall while 8 months pregnant. Someone else I knew told me their brother had been robbed at knife-point less than 100 meters away a couple of days after I was attacked. They didn’t get my phone. They didn’t get anything. Nothing!
The attack shook me deeply. It changed my perspective on everything. I was shocked to my core. Despite myself, I became paranoid and anxious. I tried not to let it get to me, determined to get over it. Of course, we all know that these things can happen to anyone at any time, but when it happens to you, it is a completely different thing. I changed everything. I became conscious of my habits and made sure I never did anything regularly, so if anyone was watching me, they could not predict when I would go shopping or walking or anything else. I got taxis home usually. I became super conscious of my surroundings in the street. I was home before sunset every day.
More than 2.5 years later, I am over it but my ways of doing things are changed forever.