September 30, 2020

Don’t sweep domestic violence under the carpet

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Victims of domestic violence are often too scared to contact the authorities because of fear they may lose their status, according leading woman advocate Valerie Banks.

Victims of domestic violence are often too scared to contact the authorities because of fear they may lose their status, according leading woman advocate Valerie Banks.

And her views are echoed by top police officer Angelique Howell who says it is common practice for abused woman to “shove the problem under the carpet”.

Last year, the Summary Jurisdiction (Domestic Violence) Law was revised and is now the Protection from Domestic Violence Law 2010 – providing more protection for a wider range of victims and potential victims.

Valerie Banks, Shelter Administrator and Advocate for Abused Women & Children said: “There is a lot more abuse taking place on the island that is not being reported and some of the time it is because the women are in fear for their immigration status as they may be expats married to Caymanians, the well-being of their children and even their finances.

“Some feel they are obligated to take whatever abuse they are given because they are not from here.

“We see all different nationalities including our own Caymanians.”

Mrs Banks added: “The centre is for abused women and children only. We can house a maximum of 24 persons at any given time

“Normally the police are contacted in most cases and the victims are taken to the hospital and then taken to the centre or taken straight to the centre by the police.

“We offer counseling in-house and we also refer the victims to the Department of Counseling. Any person is allowed to stay up to a maximum of 60 days.”

Chief Inspector Howell urged woman who are suffering abuse to fight back – and not make excuses for their violent spouse.

She said: “We are not receiving all calls relating to abuse and women tend not to come forward because of their children, the family, the “I love him factor” or their financial status because the male is the bread winner.

“Women need to know their power and strength.

“They shove the situation under the carpet pretending it never happened.

“Women need to fight back and if not for themselves fight for their children and consider what example they are setting for their children by not fighting back.”

“Women should not protect a man or make excuses for them.”

The new law incorporates abusers who are convicted and then break any orders imposed by the courts could be fined $10,000, jailed for two years or even both.

Anyone who feels they are being abused can call the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre 949-2422 or the RCIPS Family Support Unit on 946-9185.

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