Raped twice as a teen ... woman overcomes to help others

July 02, 2021
Jacqueline Powell
Jacqueline Powell

When Jacqueline Powell was born at the Mandeville Regional Hospital in Manchester in 1975, a nurse at the facility convinced her mother, Joyce Miller, to place the newborn in State care.

At 38, Miller had already given birth to 12 children. She was gravely ill when Powell was born, and her condition was deteriorating. The nurse, who was moved by the complex situation, decided to bring Powell to the Windsor Lodge Children's Home in Williamsfield in the parish, where she spent seven years.

Powell said she later learnt that the nurse thought she would be in more danger living with her mother, who suffered brain seizures. Her mother was later killed in a domestic dispute.

Powell spent eight years at the facility with her adopted sister, Norma Reid, before their foster mother and then principal at Windsor Lodge, Major Doris Smith, took them into her home after retiring early when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But the cancer spread rapidly and Smith died 18 months later.

Shortly after, Powell's adopted sister took her to stay with a family in St Catherine. But that decision later proved to be the start of a period of unwanted troubles.

"Life wasn't tragic for me until I got raped at age 14."

Two years later, while attending school in St Ann, Powell was again violated, this time by a trusted cab driver.

"One night it was late and on the way home he did the act. I didn't tell nobody, because I was afraid to talk. I was in a state of disbelief and I got very depressed. I felt unwanted, worthless, helpless but I managed to bounce back," she said.

But despite her troubles, Powell said her faith in God kept her through her darkest hour.

"There was a period where I was diagnosed as being critically depressed and suffering from acute anxiety. I had to fight my way through that nervous breakdown and weaned myself off antidepressants. I had to see a psychiatrist for weeks. The psychiatrist said it was events from childhood which led up to my breakdown," Powell said.

However, getting to the place where she is able to tell her story has not been easy. She repeatedly questioned her worth and purpose in life and felt like "there was always something missing". Powell spent the better part of four decades searching agonisingly for blood relatives, whom she found four years ago after appearing on a local television show. She said that since meeting them, a deep bond has been developing.

Now, the mother of three is on a mission to win souls for the Kingdom of God. She also said that she has been encouraging parents to be part of their children's lives.

"I always said I wouldn't want my kids to experience what I went through so I became very protective of them and my experience also made me show them love,"Powell said. "First of all, choose God. You have to have a connection with Christ as a guide, show your children love, observe the friends that they have. Also, you cannot shield your children too much but at the same time you have to ensure that you provide a protective arm."

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