What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of violent, aggressive or controlling behaviour that takes place inside the home or between family members. This behavior may endanger the victim’s security or wellbeing and may occur between spouses, partners, parents or individuals in a close relationship.
Forms of Abuse
- Denying medical care
- Forced Alcohol and/or drug use
- Unwanted touching
- Unwanted exposure to sexual pictures or videos (pornography)
- Unwanted sexual acts, i.e. anal sex, oral sex
- Attempted and forced sexual acts within or outside of marriage
- Maintaining control over financial resources
- Withholding money
- Preventing wife/husband from going to work
- Withholding or taking money from wife/husband
- Public humiliation
- Constant criticism
- Name calling
- Verbal abuse, i.e. use of bad language
- Intimidation, eg. fear or threats
- Isolation or confinement
- Destruction of pets or property
Causes of Domestic Violence
- Power imbalances in society or families
- Traditional values and beliefs
- Extramarital affairs of either partner
- Poor/no communication between partners
- Extended family problems
- Unplanned pregnancies
- Usage of family planning methods
- Socio-economic problems
- Drug addiction/alcohol abuse
As much as society would like to make the issue of domestic violence a private one, there are serious consequences for the victim, the perpetrator, the family and society. The consequences are as follows:
- Suicide attempts or death
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to look after family
- Failure to perform at work
- Failure to communicate with relatives, friends or coworkers
- Drug addiction/alcohol abuse
- Physical or emotional disability
- Increased risk of harm or miscarriage during pregnancy
- Decreased mental health and wellbeing
- The family unit breaks up.
- Victims deprived of their income cannot provide for their families.
- Children who grow up witnessing violence may become victims and abusers.
- Violence deprives the victim of full participation in all aspects of societal development.
- The economic costs do not only include days off from work due to ill health, but also affect the working time of the Police, Health Workers, Judiciary and Social Services.
The Extent of Violence
As elsewhere in the world, violence against women is a substantial problem in Trinidad and Tobago. Much of what occurs in the home is not discussed or reported to the Police. Therefore, the statistics we obtain regarding domestic violence do not reflect the true picture.
Myths About Domestic Violence
“There are a lot of myths about battered women. These myths blame the woman for what happens to her.”
A myth is a common set of beliefs that are usually untrue. By speaking out, we can change some of the common myths about violence against women.
- Beating your wife is an act of love.
- Domestic violence only happens to poor, uneducated women.
- Only unsuccessful men beat up their wives.
- Women who are beaten often provoke assaults and deserve what they get.
- Alcohol causes men to beat their partners.
- Women who are beaten could leave their partners easily if they wanted to.
- Men are not victims of abuse.
Some Reasons Why Women Stay
- She fears being alone and the future.
- She is not stable economically because of unemployment.
- She hopes and/or believes that he will change his abusive ways.
- For the sake of the children.
- Pressure from extended family.
- She may believe that “she asked for it”.
- Perpetrator threatens to kill her if she leaves.
- She fears for her safety and that of her children.
- She has nowhere to go.