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Senator attacked by ex-boyfriend tells abused women: ‘there is help out there’

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Lindsay Simmons (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A Government senator has spoken of horrific sexual and physical violence she suffered at the hands of an ex-partner to encourage other women not to put up with similar abuse.

Lindsay Simmons’ former boyfriend got a 14 year jail sentence for his attacks on her and she waived her right to anonymity in a bid to help other women trapped in abusive situations.

She said that Covid-19 had made the problem of domestic abuse worse and appealed to women who suffered in silence to get help.

Ms Simmons told The Royal Gazette: “I was 23, in a relationship for a few years, then I found out he was in another relationship, so I ended it.

“When I ended it he came at me with a machete and beat me – I had welts all over my body.

“He chased me into the bathroom and beat me. I remember when the cops came to my house and one of the police officers said to the other cop ‘she looks like a beat-up rag doll’.

“We never got back together, but a short while later, a couple of months later, he knocked on my door with tears in his eyes and said he wanted to talk to me.

“It was one o’clock in the morning. He said he had walked all the way to my house, so he asked if he could sleep on my couch.

“I let him in and that’s when the abuse started. He just beat me and raped me over and over again.”

Ms Simmons added: “He had a knife, and, so, as strong as I think I am, I can’t beat a knife, so, I pretty much begged him to stop, but knew that I didn’t want to die, so I did whatever he said.

“He dragged me down to the bottom of the hill to take me on a bike to, as he said, kill me. I ran screaming, he followed me and took me back up the hill.

“The abuse continued for hours and I basically begged for my life and he finally left hours later.”

She said: “I called the police and I pressed charges. I have got younger sisters and some of his friends were chasing them. So, at that time the only way I felt to protect my family, my sisters especially, was to drop the charges.

“It was a Monday I dropped the charges and on Thursday I woke up to him pulling me out of bed by my hair.

“He stabbed me, and the constant rape. I knew that day, I saw it in his eyes, he was going to kill me.

“I think the only reason why I survived that day was because I begged him. I just wanted to live.”

Ms Simmons added: “I couldn’t imagine my mum and daddy walking in on me dead, so I begged and begged and begged. The beating happened for hours and hours.

“There was blood everywhere. The police caught him. I didn’t drop the charges that time. He went to the trial. He got found guilty and he got 14 years.”

Ms Simmons fought back tears in November as she told colleagues in the Upper House about the ordeal she suffered when she was 23.

She said that attitudes towards women in Bermuda needed to change.

Ms Simmons explained: “I remember people were saying ‘oh, your boyfriend can’t rape you’, things like that.

“He didn’t just rape me, he stabbed me. I have marks on my body – every time I take off my clothes I see them.

“I want to empower someone to know that we have a right as women to voice that no means no, whether it’s your husband, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, a stranger – it doesn’t matter, no means no.”

Ms Simmons said: “I decided to waive my rights to anonymity because I want people to know there is life after abuse.

“People need to know it is not a taboo subject, that we can be strong together.

“I just want people to know there is help out there.

“People are living it everyday and with Covid-19 pandemic-related stress - it’s even worse. Women need to understand that we have a voice.

“It’s not easy, especially if you’re in a relationship, but you have got to be ready to put your foot down.

“Emotional and mental abuse leave scars that stay for ever as well.

“Imagine someone belittling you all the time in the relationship and you believe that this person loves you.

“That’s a sick kind of love. So, when they are doing that to you it breaks you down. And some people don’t even realise that that’s what is going on.

“It takes a strong person to actually stand up and say no.

“Some women are financially living off these men, so they have the financial abuse, the emotional abuse, the physical abuse, sexual abuse, all this combined.

“Reality is that everybody has to walk that walk, and everybody has to realise when they have had enough. And, hopefully, talking and networking, we can help each other sooner than later.

“We have got to raise are men to treat women like their queens, that they are worth something. Be that parent that says ‘son, that’s not right.’

“I think the Government is looking into doing more. We need to encourage women to press charges and leave the men. Life is so much better once the abuse ends.”

Ms Simmons, a Progressive Labour Party senator, said abused women need to break the silence about violence and rape and talk to people about what had happened to them.

She told victims: “Remember that you’re valued. I’ve already had a lot of women reach out to me, women I know, that I thought had it all together. Women I don’t know have reached out and said your story has encouraged me.

“I have had women call me crying. Most people have my number for whatever reason.”

She appealed to abused women: “Reach out to myself, reach out to the Women’s Resource Centre, the Centre Against Abuse, reach out to a friend, or family member, somebody that you trust. Call a friend, call the police, call me.

“I want them to know that they are not alone. It’s a lot I’ve had to get through. But if I can get through it, so can you.”