‘I realised I couldn’t do it any longer and needed to live’ — Kama Simmons

Domestic abuse. It’s a term that no one is unfamiliar with and that no one is immune from. Thankfully, not everyone experiences it. However, for those who do, it is often difficult to admit that it is happening, even when the signs are very telling…especially in Bermuda where ‘everybody knows your name’.

After enduring years of abuse from her then-husband, 48-year-old Kama Simmons finally decided to leave him after he revealed that he was cheating. Despite the physical and emotional abuse, Kama chose not to press charges. Recently she shared her story with SheHub.

What made you go public about your survival regarding physical abuse?
The reasons I’ve decided to go public is because it’s so very taboo to talk about. There were so many incidents where I really thought I was going to die. I cry a lot when I think about how traumatic it would have been for my daughter, family and close friends. Also, I would not wish it on anyone else to endure the pain and suffering I did for almost 11 years, so I hope my story will help someone.

Did you ignore signs before you became seriously involved with him? When did the abuse begin?
My ex-husband is a Corrections Officer is a well-known sports figure in Bermuda for boxing and karate. I did not see any signs before we got involved. The violence began immediately after we stopped dating, and he proposed. He literally swept me off my feet, so I was smitten and charmed.

Little things began to show, as far as his bad temper, with his son’s mother. I would hear them arguing constantly, which took me by surprise at first, but my ex would explain that it was her being the problem.

I decided to let it go, until we began to argue mostly because of his insecurity and jealousy. He began to complain about everything I did or didn’t do, my daughter (who was overseas in university, mostly during our marriage), and then my family. After he proposed, his attitude dramatically changed and then became very controlling. I’ve always been very independent from a young age, so I wouldn’t discuss or tell him everything, which he hated about me. He also spoke to me like I was a child, so we argued about his disrespectful attitude, which I challenged, to my detriment.

What is the public’s perception of him?
The public’s perception is that he’s a big teddy bear, who is well respected by his family and the community, due to his sports affiliation. To me, he’s a monster and master manipulator who desperately needs to get help. Trust and believe, he will do it to his girlfriend, as I wasn’t the first person he was abusive towards.

If you can, recall how you felt when you were struck by him the first time. What happened?
When my ex got upset, he would become violent and tended to break my things, at first. The first time he actually abused me was on our honeymoon, while on a cruise. We had a silly argument, and I guess I made him so angry that he flew across the bed, pushed me down and put a pillow over my face.

I was so scared that I kicked him to get him off of me, ran to the bathroom and locked myself in there for about an hour, screaming and crying my eyes out. I could hear him apologising and begging me to come out. Honestly, I was in denial about his abuse and constantly blamed myself, because he said it was my fault for making him hurt me. That was the beginning of the end.

Did you ever fight back?
I was never afraid of him and tried my hardest to fight back, mostly when he tried to suffocate me and force himself on me. He hated when I talked or argued back, so he would tell me to shut up and threaten to strangle me, or that I acted like some of the prisoners at Westgate, so he had to handle me the way he handles them.

My ex is a very big, strong guy, so it was not easy. He didn’t like when I screamed, because he hated the neighbours hearing what was going on, so he would sometimes stop, if I screamed loud enough. I’m currently seeing a chiropractor from him kicking, pushing me down and beating me badly over the years. I still have some scars from the bite marks, him throwing things at me and beating me with his bare hands. He has also thrown water on me and spit at me.

Why did you stay for so long? Fear? Guilt? Threats? Children? Financial security?
I stayed because I loved him so much and he always promised he would stop and get help. Plus, this was my second marriage, so I didn’t want to look like a failure. I’ve been going to counselling and therapy, pretty much during our entire marriage, so that I could try and function as normally as possible on a regular basis.

Did you tell anyone about the abuse?
The incident where my family found out, was just before my 40th birthday. We again had a petty argument where he beat me up and lifted me up by my neck. I dialled 911 for help, and he started to chase me around the house to take my cell phone.

The operator heard everything and called the police to come to my house. He left for his sister’s house before they arrived. My sister came to pick me up and take me to my mother’s. That’s how they knew, including his sister. My best friend knew also, as she would pick me up from my mother’s house to take me to work, as he took the car away from me (many times).

What made you finally break free of the abusive relationship?
I decided to break free after he admitted to being in an intimate relationship with his now girlfriend. I filed for divorce, but we decided to work on our marriage, go to counselling and again he promised he would end the abuse. When he came back, he tells me about a pregnancy and other things they did together, like a married couple.

I was really upset and didn’t know what to do. His abuse started back up after a couple of weeks, and then I found out that he was still seeing her. Also, during this time my daughter gave me the best news, that she was pregnant and needed her mother around to see her grand baby. I asked him to move out, but we were still seeing each other a little. Then one night after he left the house, I realised I couldn’t do it any longer and needed to live. I texted him that night to tell him that I want a divorce.

With Bermuda being such a small community, do you ever see your ex-husband?
I have major anxiety and do worry about seeing my ex. I actually haven’t, thank God but I try not to go out much, to avoid him. He came to my job a few weeks ago, with his lover, so I’ve decided to obtain a domestic violence restraining order.

Did you file charges?
The police did take reports of the incidents, but I was afraid to file charges, because I didn’t want my ex to lose his job and then have his son visit him at Westgate. Plus, it was embarrassing for me that I was even in an abusive situation.

What got you through the abuse?
Lots of prayer, keeping myself busy with work, spending time with my family and friends. Also, my daughter was in university, so I held on until she finished and started her job. I want to travel to different parts of the world with her. That is my getaway.

As you reflect on all that you’ve endured, what do you think you could have done differently?
That were so many red flags that were ignored, and I should have left a very long time ago. I tried to get him to join counselling with me, but the moment the sessions became about him and his bad behaviour, he was done…another red flag!

What do you say to someone reading this and they are in an abusive relationship?
I would say, please leave because the abuser is not going to change, unless they really want to. Life is just way too short and precious to endure this pain and the potential to lose your life. The physical scars have faded somewhat, but the mental scars never leave. I have a long road to recovery. It’s never ever your fault!

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