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Story of survival

Priya Chand
Tuesday, January 01, 2013

STRENGTH, courage and endurance.

These are words that define St Vincent De Paul Society resident Fiolomena Ravu.

Ms Ravu, 46, is a former mental health patient. She has suffered much inhumane treatment at the hands of her late partner.

She shared the story of her difficult experience and how she found the courage to face it.

"My partner used to beat me so badly that I was helpless to defend myself," she said.

"I was like a child — crawling in the house. I couldn't talk to anyone about it because my partner did not like it. I couldn't stop crying and for weeks I wouldn't sleep.

"Sometimes I felt like taking a gun and just shooting him."

Ms Ravu was beaten by her partner often but she was totally thrown off-guard when she gave birth to her first daughter and was beaten brutally through no fault of her own. And they separated.

She said that experience landed her in St Giles Hospital.

"I was in depression," she said.

"Sometimes I would wear white clothes and sit alone and not talk to anyone. I would just sit and think and that's how people knew I'd gotten sick again and I would be taken to hospital."

Ms Ravu could not figure out why her partner did what he used to. All she remembers was that it was awful.

"I used to live a happy life before I met him," she said.

"I used to work in factories and used to sew clothes. But after everything, I started living in fear. I thought everybody would do that to me."

After her ordeal, Ms Ravu was taken to St Giles Hospital for treatment.

"I stayed there for nearly three weeks but often went back because I got sick. But after I came back from St Giles, I stayed with my mother until she passed away."

Ms Ravu remembers the reaction she got from her relatives and how they abandoned her.

"My relatives don't look at me in the way I thought they would — with love and care. They are well off and live in big houses.

"I went and asked them sometimes if I could live with them, but they said they have no space." Now it's been nearly two years since Ms Ravu was last at St Giles.

"I would like to pass on a message of strength to women out there and to choose the right man. And for husbands to treat their wives with love and care."

Ms Ravu sends the message of courage to all women going through similar experiences and urges them to stand up for themselves.

"I thank God for the life He has given me and supporting me through everything. Help and support is available — all you need to do is show some strength and ask for it."

A member of St Vincent De Paul Society, Ranadi Nagavuliki, said her work was to uplift the lives of people living there and honour their lives.

"We are here not to look at the negative side of a person but to look at the positive," said Ms Nagavuliki.

"We try to love, care and honour these people who have no one to turn to and who have been abandoned by their families because of their sickness."

She said Ms Ravu had lived in the home for a couple of years now and had gone through many positive changes during that time.

"She has cut down on drinking and is taking good care of herself," she said.

"She is getting better day by day and it is a good example of her strength and belief in God."

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