An End To Years of Abuse.
At the time of writing this, it has been over two weeks since I left the home of my abusive family. I’m in a more loving family now where I’m away from the people that brought me continuous suffering and misery that affected my mental health.
Before this all started, I wasn’t much for talking about my personal life. I liked to pretend all was well, but now I’ve been expressing more of what happens behind the scenes to my friends.
About three weeks ago, my mother told me she is giving me four days to leave her home.
In case you missed the hints on my website, I’m transgender (I also identify as a lesbian).
Unfortunately for my whole life, I’ve had to grow up in a strictly religious household where my mother was the dictator of the house. I don’t mean this in the normal “My house, My rules” manner, I mean this in “If you don’t do as I say, I won’t hesitate to beat you or emotionally destroy you“ manner.
Whatever my mother said was law, and not even my father could tell her otherwise, as she was the sole owner of the house. This would mean that my father stood by as my mother physically abuse my sister and I as children.
For me, this would mean since discovering my gender identity, I’ve had to keep it a close secret from my parents. I lived a double life since I started exploring my gender identity at age 17. During this time, I sought out like-minded persons and local LGBT events.
After an interview with one of the representatives of Human Rights Watch, I was directed to EQUALS Barbados where I would meet others like myself and obtain access to the services I needed like counselling, doctors and a place to express myself as I was. This would lead me on my journey full of experiences, both good and bad (that’s a story for another article).
I only had a few persons from my extended family that supported my transition. I reached out to my aunt at one point in my life since she was the most likely to be supportive of me, both emotionally and financially, but she was like my mother, the difference being she wasn’t religious.
My aunt thought that me identifying as a girl was just a phase that I would eventually stop, so she voiced her opinion against it when I was most vulnerable. I cried myself to sleep that day.
During I.D.A.H.O.T (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia) 2018, B-G.L.A.D (Barbados – Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals against Discrimination) was looking for persons to talk about how they fight against discrimination. I took this opportunity to write a letter/essay entitled “How does Beth fight against discrimination?”.
One of the things we’re taught as LGBT persons here is planning for the event that we eventually get kicked out of our homes since Barbados is still quite an anti-LGBT country, as is the rest of the general Caribbean.
Due to colonization a long time ago, religious rhetoric was heavily ingrained in our society, leading the Christian religion to take a dominant stance in the Caribbean. And with the advent of religion came the hatred from those religious groups that didn’t like anyone not bending to their authority.
It doesn’t help that LGBT individuals are one of the biggest minorities here. I can literally count the trans people I know here on my fingers. Persons also have to flee from Barbados to other countries to seek asylum since they are unable to live here as LGBT individuals.
With the help of my first counsellor, I made a meticulously detailed plan for every step and precaution in the event of the worst case scenario: My parents disowning and leaving me homeless. The original plan was to always save money so I could live in the United Kingdom after I completed my teaching degree, however due to my father’s incompetence, it never really panned out.
Teaching was always my father’s idea, as having a child as a teacher was something that he could brag about and it paid well. It was something my dad convinced me of after my failed attempts at finding a proper career path.
But despite the huge possibility of losing my job as a transgender teacher here, it was still a viable option because it was something I could rely on to pay the bills when I left the country.
Something I personally did was create a document psycho-analysing all three of my family members, detailing everything they did and the reasons behind why their actions: From my parents’ dysfunctional marriage to my sister’s narcissistic behaviour. This played a vital role in predicting everything they did.
The psyche-analyse document spanned over twelve thousand words and was also my main weapon, as it would surely destroy their reputation and how everyone saw them. My parents valued how people saw them, which is why they didn’t care about what I wanted in life, only about how I made them look. They are also the type of people to deny everything to purely save face.
Going back to me living a double life, something I’ve had to learn was to lie to my parents without blinking an eye. Not only do they pry about personal matters, but if you tell them something personal, they would use it against you. If I didn’t say what they want, I would always receive threats of some kind.
My parents had no idea I was seeing a counsellor, a doctor, a psychiatrist or that I had friends. Hell, they didn’t even know I was failing college. Everything always had to be a secret, or they would find some way to make my life miserable.
Of course, because of this, my grades took a drop, leaving my teachers and classmates baffled in my sudden drop in performance.
This is why I tend to get envious of persons who have parents that loved them unconditionally. Sometimes I would even go as far as saying those persons were spoiled because they would complain about the littlest things that I would kill to have. My parents didn’t even say “I love you” unless in the exceptionally rare circumstance. It was important for me to realise that a person isn’t spoiled for having loving parents, but it is I who was dealt an unlucky hand by having terrible parents.
I did come out to my friends and teachers about the situation, including my cousin from my father’s side, and the support was positive. However, there is only so much they could do. Not even the teachers at my college had any advice for a trans student studying to be a teacher here.
For years I would have to manage the stress of living two lives, one as a boy and the other as a girl, just for the sake of survival.
The reason why I stayed for as long as I did was that my father provided for me with whatever I needed as long as I did everything he said. Since my father saw women as lesser, I was treated as his favourite child, like how my mother treated my sister as her favourite because my sister wouldn’t question her at all.
The Final Straw.
The point would eventually come where I wouldn’t be able to keep everything secret as I would eventually slip up.
Before this, my parents already knew of me becoming a girl, as they found my clothes on multiple occasions. They tried “correcting me” in the harsh ways they knew how, and while I would give in just so they wouldn’t turn my life into a hellscape, this wasn’t something that could carry on forever. That is what happened three weeks ago:
My mother caught me wearing my feminine clothes. I was usually careful to avoid her, but I messed up. My mother, not having any of it, decided to threaten me. However, I wasn’t going to keel over and let her have her way, so I stood up for myself, as fear is her sole method of getting what she wanted of anyone in the house.
Unfortunately for her, you can’t use fear on someone who isn’t scared of anything you can do to them. So realising that I wasn’t going to break down, she said she will call the police for me. But before she did this, she got my father involved, repeatedly telling him to come home as she was going to call the police for me.
When my father arrived, he kept yelling at me. He asked me repeatedly “If I’m a woman” in a threatening voice. Knowing my father isn’t the violent person and will only hear what he wants to hear, I told him ‘Yes’ to his attempts at interrogation. He didn’t want to hear me tell him about how he hates women either, given his clear misogynist behaviour.
He eventually gave up and said he’s “wiping his hands clean of me”. My father would proceed to call me homophobic slurs. From there my mom said I have until Monday (four days) for me to leave her home. If I’m not gone, she will call the police. Me being used to their verbal threats, I didn’t let them upset me emotionally. However, it was clear that having a roof under my head wasn’t going to be something I was going to have for much longer, so I informed my social media friends of the situation.
The icing on the cake to all of this was that I was being kicked out ten days away from my 23rd birthday.
I tried not to let that overwhelming anxiety sink in because I knew this day would come, but I never knew when. This was one of the reasons why I tried to make as many social media friends and acquaintances as possible, as it opened the possibility of finding persons who could accommodate me and my predicament.
My friends and I were all secretly trying to put together a game plan, such as where I would go if I have to leave the country and how to get the money to do so. My best option was going to Canada to stay with a friend who would host me. One of my initial plans of staying with a friend here fell through, but it would be later when a beacon of hope appeared.
There was light at the end of the tunnel in all the chaos when one of my closest online friends, Breanna, said that her family would welcome me to stay with them as long as I want, providing I can obtain food for myself (this would be because they’re having a bit of financial trouble themselves). They just live in the next parish, so I didn’t have to worry about leaving the country.
When Breanna sent me that message, it was like I heard the voice of angels in my head. It almost seemed too good to be true. I jumped at the opportunity and made arrangements for a friend of ours to drop me to my new home.
Of course, I wasn’t going to let my parents know about my plans in the slightest. I started to pack everything and rearrange my room according to what I was going to take and leave behind. There was a lot of stuff to take, as I wasn’t going to leave anything valuable with my abusive family. Although I had to leave some good stuff behind like my lid-broken PS1 and books that would have been a nice addition to my new sister’s collection.
I couldn’t leave on the day my mom assigned though, as the friend who was helping me move was only going to be free on a certain day. Luckily, it would seem that the threat to kick me out on Monday was a bluff as the four days went by and nothing happened, but that didn’t make it any safer to be around them. My mother was disconnecting the WiFi so I couldn’t use and my parents seemed to be intentionally starving me by not bringing home anything to eat.
With all of this going on, I made up in my mind this was going to be my way out of the hell I’ve had to endure for years.
So the day slowly arrived when I was going to leave and I let all of my friends know had somewhere to go. I was packed, ready and also really anxious.
I’m finally leaving after all these years and my plan of action was to leave in the morning when everyone was asleep, leaving no one to suspect me. I took a shower around 4:30 am and started to quietly move my stuff out of the house while everyone was asleep. I struggled to lift the suitcase I “borrowed” from my Dad’s stuff that had everything I needed in it.
When I was done, I had a super heavy suitcase, a heavy backpack, my desktop computer, my pillow and a bag full of extra stuff like towels.
I was ready to leave and never come back.
A New Family, A New Life.
My ride came and I was taken to my new home, conveniently closer to my local friends and other useful resources. EQUALS Barbados had moved their location away from my neighbourhood so it was good to be within their reach again as it only takes five minutes to get there by public transport (minus walking into the neighbourhood).
The family here is bigger than I expected, having twelve persons, including noisy kids. I’m getting a bit closer with some of my new family, but half of them still feel like strangers to me. Not to mention my horrible social anxiety makes it hard to start any conversation here with most persons.
Finally, I can enjoy things like:
- Wear anything I want.
- Paint my nails.
- Grow out my hair.
- Live stream content (new family has faster internet).
- Change my name legally without the hassle of dealing with my parents.
- Leave home dressed how I really want.
- I have a sister and mom that actually care about me now.
- Being called by my actual name.
Unfortunately, everything isn’t the smooth transition I was hoping it would be.
Finances are the first and most important thing as getting food and transportation are harder to obtain now without my father’s financial aid.
My college is holding money they owe me unless I provide a N.I.S number, my driver license is expiring today, my hormones ran out two weeks ago and Paypal is holding my funds sent by friends, and then having the audacity to charge me $5 USD for a transfer.
But even with the problems I’m facing now, it is still far better than having to deal with the manipulative nature of my parents.
What my parents never understood is that I would have traded just about anything just to have them accept me as I am. No matter how much money or stuff my dad bought me, he always thought that gave him special permission to control who I am as if I’m just a trophy for him to display on a wall.
But while you would think I would be much happier now, I noticed a sudden surge suicidal thoughts and depression after I left home. Not only did I didn’t take my anti-depressants, but I self-harmed by starving myself. Part of this was due to the new reality of all the stuff going on in my life (Don’t worry, I’m taking my meds again now.. I was able to see my psychiatrist on Thursday to update her on my situation and getting a refill on my medication).
No one from home called me, not even on my birthday. Shows how much I’m wanted, doesn’t it? lol Even today as I proofread this essay, I’ve been having dreams of my old home and parents.
Conclusion: A New Chapter.
As of now, I’m liking my new family. They call me by my name and I don’t need to constantly worry about keeping up appearances anymore. I can finally relax.
Despite me being exceptionally moody, I still had a good birthday thanks to my special online friends.
In terms of my financial situation, my friends are helping me where they can by sending me money by Paypal. My online best friend wants to fund my legal name change, but it’s an expensive and time-consuming process because of the rights trans people have here. We can’t even change our gender marker.
I’m no longer attending college, since I can’t afford it, so I’m going to be focusing on my dream of becoming an illustrator, comic artist and writer (Yes, all three of them). I’m going to be needing the support of my fans more than ever and I’ve already started to get commissions *grins*.
But the truth is, I’m scared for the future. What if I can’t turn my dreams into a reality and end up proving my parents right? Will I make enough money to afford the necessities? I don’t know. If you’ve read my patreon, you probably know how difficult it is for me to consider getting a “regular” job here because of potential discrimination and social anxiety.
And so this concludes my wordy essay about leaving my parents’ home. I hope you enjoyed reading about this journey in my life and look forward to reading more from me.
If you want to help me through this time of my life, you can commission me or support me via Ko-Fi, Paypal or Patreon. Of course, you will get rewards in return if you desire. No matter how big or small you contribute, I would love you to death. (*´▽`*)