The darkness of domestic violence

Dear Editor,

I pen this letter to the editor with a desire to touch the heart, awaken the conscience and expose the abuse being perpetuated against the women and girls of this nation.

Most recent in the news are video clips circulating on social media of a police officer choking a young lady, and a four-year-old girl who was allegedly murdered by her mother’s boyfriend.

Even more recent is the reported rape of a lady while walking to work early in the morning.

Violence of any form against our women and girls is unacceptable and inexcusable. This social malaise will never be tolerated. This violence must stop.

Domestic violence is any behavior perpetrated to exercise power and maintain control over a spouse, partner, girlfriend/boyfriend, or intimate partner. (For this article, we are speaking about women and girls).

The abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and other manipulative tactics to intimidate and wear down their victims. Domestic violence may occur at any age and transcends all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, races, religious denominations, and economic levels.

It is said that, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, that domestic violence is a “shadow pandemic” as domestic violence rates increased significantly during the lockdown months.

Spikes in domestic violence have been observed not just in The Bahamas but in many other countries around the world, including Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Argentina, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

I note how shelters and hotlines globally have all recorded alarming numbers of domestic violence cases during this pandemic. With the strain created by unemployment, layoffs, tension in the homes, isolation, disagreements, and poverty, we see the escalation of these cases worldwide.

I am a mother of three beautiful girls and my heart quivers at the thought of the brutality that befell our precious Baby Bella. Again, this darkness must be demolished at all cost, or we run the risk of having these incidents being repeated.  

Domestic violence causes far more pain and trauma than the visible bruises, wounds or scars that are left in its aftermath. Many must fight the grip of lingering low self-esteem, unworthiness, insecurity, and mental anguish for the rest of their lives.

They must learn to fight their way out of an enduring vortex of despair that they fall into unless they receive intrapersonal, interpersonal, social, and other interventions aimed at bringing about mental, physical, spiritual, occupational, and family stability.

Fighting and eliminating this “shadow pandemic” must become a top priority and must be dealt with urgently. We must find ways to eradicate violence against women and girls. The response to this type of action should mirror the response for the COVID-19 pandemic, operating with the same type of urgency and with adequate funding to support it.

I, therefore, make a few recommendations:

• Introduction of a domestic violence commissioner who would encourage good practice, prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution involving domestic violence. The commissioner would liaise with the Domestic Violence Unit of the police force and social workers and will be responsible for publishing information, holding media campaigns, and education and training about domestic violence.

• Introduction and publication of a sex offenders registry.

• Domestic violence police/car to deal specifically with domestic violence cases.

• Economic grant/funding for women on the lower end of the socioeconomic status.

• Scholarships for females to qualify themselves with a better education.

• Increased wages for social workers.

• The formation of a job placement program initiative for women.

• More domestic violence hotlines.

• Formation of partnerships with civic organizations that cater to women.

• Counseling services.

• Erection of more shelters for domestic abuse victims.

• Partner with churches on empowerment/feeding/housing.

“Abuse is never contained to a present moment; it lingers across a person’s lifetime and has pervasive long-term ramifications.” – Lorraine Nilon

Jasmin Turner-Dareus 

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