THE VOICE introduces a brand new column ANNOU PALE aimed at stimulating dialogue on some of the most pressing problems facing our country at this time.
We plan that this conversation will continue for some time throwing up ideas and solutions to the problems that have been identified and selected for discussion. You, the reader, have the opportunity to join the debate which in fact, has already started.
The issue of domestic violence continues to be with us 40 years after the first big case that shocked the nation: the brutal slaying of a mother by her lover at Forestiere.
Since then there have been cases of domestic violence too numerous to mention in which mainly women have been the victims. Several of them have been murdered and many more maimed. Still incidents continue, shocking the nation each time. But solutions continue to be elusive.
The recent killing of a four year old boy in Dennery in his home took domestic violence in St Lucia to a whole new level, focussing on the ill-treatment of children in the home and on the issue of corporal punishment.
What can we do to curb domestic violence? Are the mere passing of laws enough? Where are the organizations that ought to be advocating for women and children in our society? Why is domestic violence so prevalent in our society, anyway?
N.B…Domestic violence should not happen to anybody. Ever.Period. But it does – and when it does, there is help. Maybe you have lived with abuse, maybe it happened just once; maybe you work or live next to someone who is being abused right now. Whoever you are, get help. Whether you living in Soufriere, Dennery, Castries or Babonneau there is someone to help.
Domestic violence is a relevant topic in light of the recent murders of both men and women by their partners..
Domestic Violence – Frequently Asked Question; What is domestic violence? What are the signs of domestic violence? What increases my risk? What are the harmful effects? Why do victims stay? What are examples of abuse? How can I stay safe while I’m in a violent relationship? What is dating abuse? How can I help a friend or coworker? How can I leave an abusive relationship? Is legal help available? How can I get a protective order? How do I prepare to leave a violent relationship? What should I take with me when I leave? How can I stay safe after I leave?
This is what happens when a society has been exposed to so much violence. Really, it’s all around us. I do not think the situation in St Lucia is different to that anywhere else. Neither do I believe there is any best solution. It is difficult policing domestic violence. It appears to me that one solution could be the introduction of civics in our schools so that we train our children to accept that violence cannot be the answer to every little dispute.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of domestic violence begins by observing the behaviour of both the abuser and the person being abused. The abuser may appear overly controlling or coercive, attempting to answer all questions for the victim or isolating him or her from others. This type of behaviour may occur in the context of a visit to the doctor where the abuser refuses to let the victim out of his sight and attempts to answer all questions for the victim. You may even note emotional abuse actually taking place. In stark contrast, the person being abused may appear quiet and passive. He or she may show outward signs of depression such as crying and poor eye contact.
But what if I don’t see any signs of abuse, no depression, nothing. But that person is always happy. But you know inside they are pretending, what shall I do then?
Domestic violence is a serious threat for all parties involved and we should know for ourselves when there is a situation of domestic violence occurring in our relationship.
Your partner apologizes and says the hurtful behaviour won’t happen again — but you fear it will. At times you wonder whether you’re imagining the abuse, yet the emotional or physical pain you feel is real. Listen and trust your instincts, try to get as far away from the situation as possible, the life you may be saving might just be that of you and your children.
The only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action — and the sooner the better. Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it’s a friend, loved one, health care provider or other close contact. Here in St. Lucia we do have different avenues where one can seek refuge, counselling and comfort in such difficult times. Take time to find out what is available for you at first; you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. But you’ll also likely feel relief and receive much-needed support.
Domestic Violence is one of the many reasons why I am of the total belief that public flogging needs to be reinstated into our law books. Any man (or woman for that matter) who believes that they have the right to lay their hand on their spouse for whatever reason (perhaps with the exception of self-defence and even that needs to be approached cautiously) they need to feel exactly what they give out. You wanna beat someone, take licks too and let’s see whether you truly are big and bad or whether you’re just a cowardly pussy cat with itchy hands that needs to be dealt with like the rotten bully you are.
I also strongly believe that provisions and laws need to be put in place to allow neighbours, friends and loved ones to report cases of domestic violence and for a thorough investigation to be done SERIOUSLY and EFFICIENTLY and if found guilty, for the perpetrators to be dealt with appropriately. Too many times and in way too many cases, there are victims who suffer in silence and even though the cases are reported, it is usually left to the victim to make the report or confirm reports for any charges to be laid and in most cases, the victims are mortally terrified to make such reports about their abusers. It is because so many of those cases go unreported that the scourge continues and this in turn leads to a number of damaging tragedies like homicides either by abusers or fed up victims and where children are concerned…broken generations…sighhhh the spiral of unfortunate events stemming from domestic violence is long…too long to even begin to speak of in this forum but all I will end by saying is that something drastic needs to be done urgently and although I know that there is no magic pill because this problem continues to persist across the globe, we need to try our hardest…everyone, to stamp it out as best as we can.