As Stephina Ralston returned to her home in Warsop, Trelawny, on Tuesday, she was paralysed with fear that the man who had butchered her within an inch of her life was still lurking around.

The 23-year-old, who survived several knife wounds, reportedly inflicted by a jealous ex-lover, said she suffered sleepless nights at the Percy Junor Hospital in Spaldings since last Thursday’s brutal attack.

“I am living in a free, democratic country and I am living like a slave! It’s not right,” Ralston told The Gleaner.

“I am expecting him to come back again … . Everywhere I go, this man finds me, so I cannot be a citizen in Jamaica.”

Ralston’s ordeal is part of the narrative of torture and torment faced by thousands of Jamaican women who are victims of gender-based violence.

That sense of helplessness in the face of domestic violence has forced lawmakers to push legislative reform on the front burner amid national outrage over recent killings of women and an assault scandal that placed a member of parliament under scrutiny.

More than one in every four women in Jamaica have experienced intimate partner physical and sexual violence in their lifetime, a state-sponsored study published in 2018 revealed.

Superintendent Carlos Russell, commander of the Trelawny Police Division, said that a warrant has been issued for Anthony Bailey, who is a person of interest in the attack.

Bailey has been urged to turn himself in to the police for interrogation.

Ralston believes that her life was saved because of the kindness of a pump attendant who broke curfew to sell the driver petrol after they ran out of gas.

“The worker [saw] that I was dying, so he took the risk and serve me the gas,” Ralston said.

“… I was running out of breath and keep telling my boyfriend that I am going to die.”

An eyewitness who asked not to be identified told The Gleaner that the assailant, a butcher, attacked Ralston from behind.

“The man cut her on her side and then stabbed her in the cut several times before wiping off his knife and running away,” the eyewitness said of the incident.

“I could not find anything to fend him off her, so when he was gone, I immediately send for a sheet and a towel to wrap her up and send her off to the hospital.”

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