‘I’ve Been To Hell and Back’
TODAY’S FITC…hmmm, let’s just say that she is crying out (literally) for help and she wanted me to put her message out there for the world to see with hopes that a clearer understanding of her by society will help in her fight to change her life around.
Melissa Joseph is an unemployed mother of five who says her last child is the only thread keeping her from diving over the edge.
I happened to meet Ms Joseph whilst picking up my father from the Victoria Hospital and she approached us telling us her life story.
With heavy tears streaming down her face, Joseph, was nursing a fairly fresh stab wound that started from her back and travelled up to the midway point of her right ribcage. She spoke about her turbulent past where sexual abuse, drugs and alcohol have proved to be major roadblocks in her life every time she found her footing and was on her way to a better life.
Joseph’s arms and face tell the tales of war and strife as she bears numerous and glaringly obvious scars from violent altercations but her vocabulary, diction and proof of past employment show that she is no street urchin.
Staring me dead in the eyes whilst she spoke, Joseph’s words were deep and intense making it bordering on uncomfortable for me at times as she spoke but underneath it all, was the plea for just one more chance at life.
Please note that this interview was unplanned as I was approached whilst attending to a personal matter.
The VOICE: Who are you and what is your story?
Melissa: My name is Melissa Joseph and they also call me Chucky’s Bride but I’m no bride of Chucky, I am a human being and I am a 32 year old unemployed mother of five children and this time I just want my voice to be heard. I was employed under the Ministry of Health through the NICE programme but because I had an incident with the Ministry of Gender Relations, they called my working department and had my contract terminated. As a result of that, I’m out on the streets. I’m barely surviving on welfare and I’m frustrated. They’ve gone as far as putting me in the Mental Wellness Centre. I stayed there because I figured, if I have a mental problem then I want the help.
I was shot in the leg by the police on July 17, of 2014 when a police officer came to my home to investigate a matter. I’ve gone to the Complaints Unit and was told that there is no record of me making a report of the shooting. I have children and I don’t want to have that kind of life…I want to get out of it. This life is not a life for me so I’m asking whichever authority and anyone in a position to give me the benefit of the doubt. They could reach me at my number 728-7562. Please, I deserve one more chance…everybody deserves one more chance because look, right now I have a laceration to my right side and I don’t deserve these things.
The VOICE: How do you manage to find yourself in this situation?
Melissa: I’ve been marginalised and live in the marginalised areas where these things happen. If I was employed, I would have been going to work then straight back to check on my children. I would not have had the time to be in the areas where I would be stabbed and all sorts from different men.
The VOICE: What was your childhood like?
Melissa: I’m an abused child. My stepfather sexually abused me at the age of eight years and I’ve always been looking for help and assistance. I’ve gone to all the respective organisations but speaking from experience, the problem is within the government and with whatever authorities that is in position…they don’t do follow ups. The Human Services division, they try to take away people’s children from the biological parents and I know the way they are trained. I know I am not a professional in that field, I know that they’re supposed to place the child with the next of kin which is a family member and if there is no family, then the next option is foster care. Some of my children have been taken away from me and placed in foster care but now my 13 year old was raped by a foster parent and it is kept silent. They told me that they cannot give me information but it is my right to know that my daughter was molested. As an abused child, I know that this “bobo”, this sore and the pain you carry, even though you get counselling, prayers or whatever, you still have that burden in your heart.
The VOICE: What do you want right now?
Melissa: I’m a very motivated individual. I’ve gone through hell and I’m back. I’ve gone through all establishments and I always try to help myself. I also try to assist others in these marginalised areas and these are the places that I want them to focus on because in those areas, we have potential persons who could be lawyers, doctors etc. but they have never been exposed to one chance, just one chance. They just need somebody to at least listen to them and can do better than just listen.
The VOICE: What is your strong point? What are you good at?
Melissa: My whole working life, I’ve been working under the government as an office assistant but that’s just a starting point because I can be anything that I want as long as I get the proper schooling. I just want to walk away from that life that I’m living…that life is death and I realised that from Friday (which was when she was stabbed).
The VOICE: Tell me about that stabbing incident.
Melissa: (She bursts into tears) God kept me alive for a reason and I don’t know his reason as yet but I could have been dead from that thing I have in my waist. I went up to Gros Islet on Friday for a drink which is my regular routine. Now in the past, I’ve robbed tourists as a form of survival to feed my daughter and I’ve gone to Bordelais for it. Now alcohol does not go too well with me because I turn to an instant psychopath so I will admit that I was under the influence of alcohol and I spilled a guy’s drink. When that happened, the man saw nothing to do but to punch me on my face. Now me being under the influence, we got into a fight and during that fight, his gang joined and brutalised me. They treated me like a stray dog by beating and kicking me until one retrieved a knife and stabbed me. I didn’t deserve that. He could have asked me to buy his drink back or something…it was just a drink but as a result of spilling a drink, I almost lost my life.
The VOICE: You mentioned that there was an incident that got you fired. What happened?
Melissa: As I mentioned, I’m a mother of five but I only have one child in my care and her father contributes absolutely nothing in her life. As a mother, my daughter didn’t call for me so I don’t want her to live the same life as me, I want a better life for her and so I found myself going after tourist men and I’d entice them and then rob them. I don’t have sex for money, I robbed for money. If they came after me telling me that they had money, I’d take it away as a form of survival. I know that’s no way to live and my seven year old should not grow up seeing me as an example of how she should live because children live what they learn and look up to their parents.
The VOICE: What are you doing to change your life yourself?
Melissa: I have a high temper and people say that I’m crazy but I go to the Wellness Centre to control my anger and so right now, I’m on Respidoral and Tegritol, these are medication for mood swings and to control my anger and I take them when I feel it is necessary. I have tried all other methods but we are always fighting against both visible and invisible spirits and those we cannot see are those that target us. I have a strong belief in God and I am testimony for God or whatever you choose to call him. There is a God and because of him I can stand up and have this conversation with you. I saw my death on Friday and I’ve never reached so close to death before.