A week ago, my ex lodger attacked me with a meat cleaver outside my home – and the police handled it the same way they tackle all crimes against trans people in Barbados.
For the Royal Barbados Police it was almost like it was too much trouble to arrest him. It is typical of the way they treat our LGBTI community. In fact, it was only when Gay Star News contacted the police station that they suddenly seemed to start taking it seriously.
How helping someone out landed me in danger
It all started in December when my ex boyfriend contacted me on WhatsApp. He said he had a friend who couldn’t stay in his current house because people kept stealing his stuff.
My ex said he had thought I could help because I had some spare rooms. I was unsure of having a stranger in my house but I didn’t want him on the streets, so I said I would take him in.
He moved in the next day, on 12 December, bringing all his possessions in just one small duffel bag.
At first, things went quite smoothly. I was getting some small repairs done around the house but he didn’t mind.
I am on very amicable terms with my ex. We only split up because his family didn’t like the fact I’m trans. But I started to see he knew something about my lodger he wasn’t telling me.
By January, the guy’s behaviour had changed. He would invite people to the house without telling me. One time I came back and he had a girl there and he was hiding her from me.
Of course, I told him there was no need to hide anyone, I didn’t mind him having guests. And I met the girl who said she was his best friend.
But I said I wanted to know when he invited people over. As a trans person, who is quite well known, I didn’t want anyone to realise whose home this was and to cause trouble. If they did, it would be quite easy for them to attack me in my own home.
As the days went on, he continued to have guests over and I think he was having affairs with some of the women. He also had sex with my ex boyfriend and even propositioned me at one point.
He stole from me and moved out of the house
Meanwhile I had got to know his girlfriend who lives in Canada, over the phone. She told me she had been wiring him money every week. Despite this, he told me she had cut him off and was refusing to give him more money which is why he couldn’t help with the household bills. So that meant he was freeloading off me.
The girlfriend said she wanted to visit him for Valentine’s Day, so I said she could stay here.
She confided to me that she knew about his affairs. And she told me that he wanted to have a child with her but she was worried about his sexual health and thought he should have a test.
They tried putting me in the middle of the conversation. The girlfriend wanted me to talk to him about it but he didn’t want to discuss it. And he was still having people over without telling me. So I gave them an ultimatum over WhatsApp to sit down and talk or to leave my house.
They both decided they were going to leave without saying another word. When I came home, I found he had left some stuff of his stuff behind. What is more, he had stolen a mobile phone, a phone charger and some clothes from me.
That was on Wednesday, Valentine’s Day.
For the next couple of days, I tried reaching out to him but he had blocked me.
‘You are going to be beat bad tonight’
Then on Saturday evening, 17 February, the girlfriend contacted me and said she needed to speak with me. She said she, he and a friend would be passing the house. She said she would use the opportunity to stop and speak to me in private.
The plan was that I would return the items he’d left behind and he’d give me back my property.
I didn’t see them until a quarter after midnight on Sunday morning. They came past but he was ignoring me.
They were on the street just outside my house and I called after him and said ‘you have some of my things and I want them back’.
He said ‘if you don’t keep off me, you are going to be beat bad tonight’. He swings round he and he has a meat cleaver.
Then he made a swing at me with the meat cleaver and just kept swinging. He cut me on my forehead, across my nose, on my neck and shoulder. Somehow he even managed to slice my glasses off my face.
I grabbed hold of him. I was trying to get the cleaver off his hand. In the scuffle I fell to the ground and he was on top of me. I was screaming “get off me” and none of the neighbors came to help.
The scuffle only lasted 15 seconds. I called the ambulance and the nearest police station. When the police came I gave my ex lodger’s name, addresses he was likely to be at and a full description.
I went to the hospital and spent 12 hours before I got stitches. And it then took another hour to get a doctor to fill in a police form about my injuries.
How the Barbados police responded
Meanwhile I was expecting the police to be out there finding him. But when I went to the police station on Sunday (18 February), they admitted they hadn’t caught him.
They said they wouldn’t even take a statement from me because the original responding officer is “off for a few days.”
I said this was a very serious matter, I could have got killed. I need to get this guy picked up off the street. You are telling me you have to wait two days while the man is running around wanting to kill me still?
In the end they took a statement. But when I contacted the police again, they still hadn’t arrested him. They claim they have been looking for him, but I’m not surprised if they can’t find him now. After all, he’s had plenty of time to go to ground.
Sadly, this is pretty typical of how the police treat the trans community in Barbados. In January 2016 my car was vandalised and it took the police a month to take a statement.
Then in April that year, a mob attacked me outside a mini-mart and I had to defend myself. The police officer then went on a vacation for an entire month. In the end I barged into the police station and insisted they took action. And within two days the new officer had someone in custody.
This was the most serious attack so far, but the response was the same.
It felt like it was up to me to track him down
I feel like I’ve been left to pursue justice on my own. I’ve had friends calling, offering to help me track this guy down.
Then I remembered his girlfriend was flying back to Canada on Wednesday and I suddenly realised she may try to take him with her.
It was down to me to call the airport and speak to the police. I was the one who sent them photos and information to make sure they stopped him. I was just hoping I wasn’t too late.
At this point, I told Gay Star News my story. They contacted Oistins Police Station in Barbados to give them the opportunity to respond. The Royal Barbados Police have not yet replied to GSN’s questions.
However, within 20 minutes of GSN putting the phone down to them, two officers arrived on my doorstep. They asked me for more information and said they would try to track my attacker down.
Later that day, the police arrested him at the airport.
He was charged in court and pleaded not guilty. It is not clear if he will get bail or not. If he does, it will be a condition of his bail that he shouldn’t come near me.
I will have to wait to see if I get justice through the courts. But I still believe the police are failing to take crimes against LGBTI people seriously.
Also by Alexa Hoffmann on Gay Star News: