By Farah Valentina Bates-Ali
While some women are unable to make it out of abusive relationships alive, there are those who at the last moment manage to get out, but not without putting up a physical and/or emotional fight initially, and in the end, losing.
In an exclusive interview with BIG Smith News Watch, 42-year-old Shaunna-May Trotman spoke of her journey to the end of the road of a toxic relationship, and how she managed to gradually bounce back after losing everything.
Shaunna-May at this point is the owner of four small business along Pitt Street in New Amsterdam, but it was not always like that for her… so let’s rewind a bit.
As a teenager, her wish was to become a manicurist, but this did not work out as planned. At the tender age of eighteen she got an opportunity to attend a hair-dressing course, but was unable to enroll on time, as the financial resources were absent, so she was forced to seek employment having just left school.
“After I got the job… because I couldn’t afford all the stuff, I started saving my money, and I was able to buy everything. So when I had all the necessary equipment and every other thing that I had to get to do the course, I left the job at Church View and went straight into the course,” she told BIG Smith News Watch
Once she completed the course, she had a number of challenges to deal with, and that included not having a place to open her own salon as she really wanted to. The alternative was ‘squatting’ in her mother’s dining and living rooms as clientele grew.
“At that time, my friend Tracy Anderson presented me with a hair dryer, and even though I didn’t have a chair to start off with, I made much of what I had, and my customers used to sit on the ground to get their hair dry.”
After using her mom’s place for some time, Shaunna-May, who was determined to have her own place, got a break. A woman who was about to leave the country and knew of her talent, offered Shaunna-May to take control of her salon while she was away.
The young lady took up the offer and was able to build a name for herself until the woman returned and offered her the opportunity to purchase the place, an offer Shaunna-May did not refuse.
She would soon secure her own place several streets down, where she reopened her salon, but had to shut its doors after a nasty divorce from a man whom she met along the way, and had committed to the ‘for better for worse’ vow.
By that time, Shaunna-May had started a ‘Breakfast Shop’ which ran alongside the salon operations, coupled with a luxurious hair and lashes establishment.
She reflected that her divorce put her to shame within New Amsterdam, and in the process of weathering the storm of a divorce, and being the topic on the streets, the emotional pains took the best of her, she began to crumble, and her business slowly followed behind.
Shaunna-May described being condemned by Berbicians because of her decision to walk away from a toxic relationship, and even landed in court with an attempted murder charge while trying to defend herself from her abuser.
“One day he scrambled me and held onto to my hair, and during the ordeal I had a metal object in my hand which I used to defend myself. He made a police report, and I was held for attacking him. I was charged and placed before the court for attempted murder,” she told BIG Smith News Watch
Shaunna-May recalled the years of abuse she endured at the hands of her then-husband, and the things which he did that contributed to the closure of her business. And when she finally walked away from the relationship, she was ridiculed by Berbicians, who knew she was suffering in the very relationship.
“Some days I prepared food to sell and he would put locks on the shop and walk with the keys, preventing my access. When I finished cooking my stuff and took it to the front, aside from my locks, he placed locks over mine. I would have to call a friend from the Fire Station to cut the padlock, and this kept happening for a while,” she recalled
As a result of this, she began selling outside of the shop, but that really did not help much, because when she was finished setting up to welcome her customers, her husband at the time would throw muddy water from upstairs, which landed right where her food was placed to sell, and where customers had to walk.
“It was very hard, and society began with their judgmental ways. These things really started getting to me, and I began to have weight fluctuation. I was even told that I was HIV-Positive,” she recalled with tears streaming down her face.
The young woman said that there was a few friends who were close to her, and coupled with the support of her mother, they had helped her to get through the period, having had a complete understanding of what she was dealing with.
When Shaunna-May finally filed for divorce, she began to feel a weight lifted from her shoulders. She made a quick trip out of Guyana to a conference, and returned with new energy to bounce back on her feet.
Upon her return to Guyana she was offered a new location in Pitt Street where she reopened her four businesses, and since then has been prospering.
Shaunna-May explained that even though she is “nowhere close” to where she wants to be in life, she is grateful for the opportunities and lessons learnt so far in life. She further stated that she grew and developed a love for herself that made her confident, and that has since been one of the pillars for her success to date.
Today, she has a new partner to whom she is engaged, and together they opened a taxi service alongside the breakfast shop, which eventually was reopened, and a salon which continues to progress “a bit slowly” given the constraints of the global pandemic.