By Isanella Patoir
A single father and businessman, Randy Shepherd has started a campaign against domestic violence and has a message for men who abuse their partners.
He recently sat down with the News Room and spoke of his personal experience in an unhealthy relationship and how he was able to move on.
The campaign- Stand up, Speak out, Stop domestic violence, We believe you- is quickly becoming popular in communities across Guyana.
“I was in a relationship with a young woman and I practically think I was doing everything that I suppose to do as a man and she was unfaithful.”
“As a man I think I have invested so much into our relationship and I keep telling myself what she is doing is not right and many of times I get up in the middle of the night and I am standing over her and I am saying –this is not right, she shouldn’t be doing these things- in the midst of that, reality struck.
“I ask myself, ‘if I am to harm her what will I gain from that’?…and there was nothing because is either I gotta keep running for the rest of my life or be locked away in prison,” Randy said.
In the past four months, the 40-year-old and his four-year-old son have been doing outreaches in Linden, Essequibo, Berbice and around Georgetown to educate people about the harms of domestic violence.
Randy was pushed to launch the campaign following the gruesome death of 37-year-old Zaila Sugrim, whose remains were found in a shallow grave at Crane, West Coast Demerara on May 14, 2019.
Zaila suffered at the hands of her husband for 15 years and the abuse ended tragically after her husband shot her in the head, burnt her body and then buried her. The couple had five children together.
It was this shocking tragedy that made Randy took a stand against domestic violence; he distributes stickers and flyers to raise awareness on the issue.
Randy is pleading with men to think about the consequences and have the strength to walk away from unhealthy relationships like he did but he knows it will not be easy.
“Too many of our women are being killed and too many children are being left without parents.”
According to Randy, after his unhealthy relationship, he realized that being abusive does not fix or help anything or anyone.
“I just decide to move on, take my clothes, leave everything else behind and start life all over again,” Randy told the News Room.
Since Zaila’s tragic death, a number of other women were killed by their partners and more recently within the space of a week two East Coast Demerara women were murdered by their ex-husbands.
On August 21, 44-year-old Vinnette Headley-James, a mother of eight was stabbed to death by her husband at their Lot 68 Nabaclis Side Line Dam home.
Four days later, 27-year-old Shamaine Frank was also stabbed death by her reputed husband at her Victoria Village home.
Frank was a mother of three young children.
“I visited the home of the young woman [Frank]…I walked into that house and I am sitting opposite the room that she was murdered in, by a man who she trust, a man who was supposed to love her…her three kids witnessed that, they saw their mother lying there in blood,” Randy said.
Randy believes that men should be taught to express their feelings and maybe the scourge that is domestic violence will not be so prevalent.
For women, he believes there is need for more empowerment so that they understand there is a life beyond an abusive relationship
“We as men were taught that it is wrong for a man to be emotional, a man shouldn’t cry, a man shouldn’t hug another man, it is totally wrong because a man bile up all of that emotions inside of him and then when it reach to the top of his head, the only way he know how to lash out is physically and in violence.”
First Lady Sandra Granger in 2018 during an address at the UK’s Fourth National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, revealed that there was an increase in reported incidence of domestic violence by an intimate partner in Guyana from 74.8 per cent in 2011 to 89 per cent in 2017 with females accounting for 80 per cent of the victims.