Staff Nurse Roxann Ashton-Allen has opted to break the silence about conditions that has led her to file domestic abuse charges against her soon to be divorced husband Edwin Allen , in the wake of colleague Staff Nurse Arianna Taylor-Israel’s murder, allegedly at the hands of her estranged husband.
Allen is also attached to wards at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingstown.
According to her “maybe if I had acted years before, or as recent as December and make [these abuse allegations] public, it would have impacted on my colleague’s life because to know or to acknowledge that it’s not her alone going through being abused but myself too and maybe she would have come and asked me… ‘Allen I did not know you were going through this’ and we probably would have had a discussion and things might have been different for SN Taylor,” she said, conscious too of the potential for resource sharing that could have benefited them both.
SN Allen took time to share her story, exclusively with ANN , on the day that four other nurses were hosting a vigil and march for SN Taylor.
As she tells it, her 13 years of marriage has been marred by 10 years of abuse. Abuse that was not only physical but was also meted out psychologically. Allen accused her husband, from whom she is currently legally separated, of a string of extra marital affairs over the course of their relationship. To her mind the only reason she is still married to him was because of their daughter, who suffers from a medical condition, is, as a result, heavily reliant on both parents. Though, Roxann admits, she is more attached to her father.
Allen recounted several incidences when her husband’s physical display of violence threatened her sanity and safety causing her to flee in escape. On one of the worst occasions she told us about, his wrath was incited in August of 2013 when she denied his demands for sexual congress. “I was exhausted and he wanted sex but I told him ‘I would not be able to have sex now because I have work in the morning.’ Before I went to work [that same day] we did have sex and on my return he wanted more and I told him no so he- we had a short cutlass inside the house so he went for it and he started to fling it so I had to run under the bed and then to the neighbour to seek rescue. So I remember that vividly from 2013 and that was when I took the opportunity to go to Trinidad to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing.”
Another episode would occur, this time, ‘in broad daylight.’ Sometime in 2017, Allen said, “we had a discussion before we left home and I told him that once I’m not on the ward during my lunch hour I would go to Victoria Park to sit…so he went there to look for me, a staff member told him I was at the Park and he came to the Park. He met me there sitting talking with someone and he was not pleased with it. Mind you, he was bringing our child for me to take her to physiotherapy.
While I was approaching the car he rushed up on me and he started to slap me up and abuse me in my uniform in public.” Several members of the public intervened on this occasion.
A senior nursing colleague would later visit the couple at home for follow up talks. Another bystander informed SN Allen’s aunt of this incident and her extended family interceded the following morning. To her family members the solution was simple: “if both of us cannot make it together, both of us should go our separate ways.”
Such was the state of affairs that SN Allen said she sought psychological advice from Dr. Jozel Miller to ascertain whether she was the root cause of the issues affecting her relationship – with the man she still claims to love.
He would later claim to no longer have an interest in the marriage.
SN Allen said his pronouncement was expressed in a number of ways. Chief amongst those that stand out to her was his absence at her hospital bedside where she laid for 3 days as doctors worked to correct a genu valgum in her right knee – or knock-knee as it is known locally.
Allen recalled yearning for a visit from him and their daughter but none was forthcoming. Be that as it was, he picked her up from Milton Cato Memorial the Saturday following her October 17th surgery and she was confined to a cast up to November 13th last year. Following the removal of the cast SN Allen was crutch bound for some time. It was one of her crutches that would cause her to institute legal proceedings against her husband. Mr Allen allegedly whacked her upper right arm with one of the crutches in another fit of rage,because she refused to do his laundry .
The officer who took the complaint, now Sergeant Chambers, at the Questelles Police Station has come in for some praise from Mrs Allen. “I find he acted speedily to be honest. I went to the station the Wednesday, they gave me a medical report form and I went to the doctor that same day. By the Friday they called [Mr. Allen] and locked him up… he doesn’t appear to be [an abuser] in society but society ain’t blind.
They saw me taking vans with the crutches and they see how many vehicles are at home,” she said. Another officer helped to guide her through the reporting process, Allen also told us. “On the night when this incident took place, I called an Inspector of police and he did advise me exactly what to do and from there I went to the Questelles Police Station. He also impacted my decision, knowing that he was confidential and he counselled me and explained to me that it’s nothing for me to be ashamed about. He also inspired me to go to the police station to make the report – and if nothing was done he informed me also who was in charge of the station. He practically explained the chain of command so I could follow up.”
To date Allen’s domestic abuse case hasn’t been heard by the local Family Court. As per her understanding of the procedures “the Magistrate would send the matter to the – I don’t know if it’s the Serious Offence Court or the [Kingstown] Magistrate Court where it would go because I’m not so au fait with these things. So I’ll wait on the process of the Magistrate, what they’re doing.”
Mr Allen told ANN that the matter is in court and he would refrain from commenting,when we go in contact with him for his comments.
As woman who is now breaking her silence with regards to the abuse she has suffered, SN Allen does not believe that there are enough mechanisms provided in local communities for abused women. She proposed “once a first incident of abuse is reported, I’m not too sure if there’s one, but a special police unit must be in place to handle that. And too they should get rid of the police concept that they are not getting involved in domestic affairs.
We need to get away from that because we shouldn’t reach to a stage where things happen that we cannot reverse. Look at Taylor’s death. I think as [abused] women we should have more support groups and things should be put in place because especially as a nurse practitioner once we discover abuse and it is reported the must police must act up on it…. Social workers need to get more proactive – go and investigate, see the living conditions, see what can be done so that things can be put in place.
Most of these times women are dependent upon men to basically run the home financially so if they can assist them. Not giving something to say that you’re sitting down and just waiting to collect something but even they have a skill or a trade or something to find source of employment to help channel them out of the abusive relationships ”
As a further word of advice to victims Alle said “step up, stand up and speak out!”