UN Women provides a list of hotline numbers for many countries around the world.
If you have hit or hurt someone or feel the need to control them, you must take responsibility for getting the help you need to change your behaviour. Domestic violence is not inevitable – stopping it is in your hands!
Cycle of Violence
In the Cycle of Violence, there are many points at which a victim may want help. There are also many points at which a perpetrator may decide to seek assistance with stopping their abusive behaviours. Since Domestic Violence in all of its manifestations is such a big problem globally, including for Barbados, for Grenada and the Caribbean, there is a lot which has been put in place to assist victims, and to assist perpetrators too. Let’s have a look at the Cycle of Violence to help determine where you may see yourself in the pattern, and therefore determine what kind of change you need to make in your life, and which agency or group is most suited to assist you.
If someone in your life is making you feel very badly about yourself; if they are shaming you, bullying you, coercing or tricking you into doing things you don’t want to do, or if they are hitting you or physically harming you in any way, you should have a conversation with someone about this. Do not bear the confusion all on your own.
Perhaps you are unsure if your situation is considered abusive, or is considered normal, particularly in your community or cultural context. Why don’t you call a professional in your country who can give you straightforward, non-judgemental facts about what is considered abusive? This knowledge will help you make informed choices about what you can do to stop the troubling behaviours which are hurting you.
Several people who are being abused get stuck at this “just thinking about it” stage for quite a long time. It is very difficult to take the first step in acknowledging that someone you know, who you may love very deeply, is in fact harming you. However, it is important for you to reach out for that first conversation. Help is there for you if you wish to take it.
- If you are in imminent danger of a battering incident; if you fear that you or a child you know is at risk of harm, or is in fear for their life due to violence, then you should leave the vicinity immediately and go someplace that is safe.
- Neighbours or family members may be able to give you temporary shelter. Reach out to them.
- You must call the police, as they are mandated by law to respond to calls of domestic violence and ensure your immediate safety. Reach out to them.
- Domestic Violence is a crime and it is against the law. The police exist to see about your protection. Once they have arrived and taken control of the situation and ensured your safety, they will advise you on how to proceed with charges against your abuser.
- If you have been the victim of a battering incident, sexual assault, bullying, name-calling, or any form of emotional or physical violence, the legal, police, and psychological services available in your country are mandated to help you get help and recover. Reach out to them.
- If your battering incident, or sexual assault has resulted in a need for medical services, the General Hospital in St. George’s, Grenada is experienced in handling victims of violence as is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados. If you are in another Caribbean country, the main hospital should be able to assist you.
- Most villages and towns in the Caribbean will also have medical clinics where you can go in an emergency. Throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, for example, there are over 45 hospitals, medical clinics, or medical stations available. This is also the case in Barbados- there are primary health care facilities across the island and no matter which Parish you are in, there will be a clinic nearby that can meet your medical requirements. There are eight polyclinics offering walk-in and emergency care across the country and numerous private facilities (Barbados Pocket Guide – Clinics). Remember that if you call the police, it is their primary duty to take you to the closest medical centre, and to ensure your medical care as a number one priority.
- Domestic violence affects each person differently, depending upon many things such as individual resilience characteristics; degree of support and help available; type, severity and frequency of abuse; childhood experiences and whether there are any intersecting factors such as disability, mental illness, pregnancy. Each person will take their own journey to healing; some people may get on very well with their lives while others will find it difficult to function and will need extensive help.
- The first step in healing is recognising that the abuse is not your fault, you have a right to live free from violence. The second step is sharing the problem with someone who understands and can support you.
- It is not always easy (and in some instances may seem impossible) to get out of a situation where you are at risk of further victimisation. Leaving an abusive partner can place some women at significant risk of danger and the plan you make may need to take this into account.
- Whatever steps you take – even if you are only at step one, you may find it helpful to know that it is possible to heal from the effects of abuse
- If you have been the victim of sexual assault, there is one agency in Grenada which specializes in psychotherapeutic assistance, in both group and individual formats. Telephone Sweet Water Foundation to make these arrangements for yourself or someone you know who is in need of healing. Note that you may call Sweet Water immediately following an incident of rape, or years following. If you were harmed many years ago when perhaps you were a child, and you are only coming across this website now, when you are an adult, it’s not too late. Reach out. Sweet Water Foundation provides depth psychotherapy assistance for victims of trauma, at any stage of the lifespan.
- At the end of this information sheet, we list the numbers and names of agencies in several Caribbean countries. Some of these will provide specialist services. For example, the Legal Aid and Counseling Clinic in St. George’s, Grenada runs a number of psycho-educational programs, all designed to help end domestic violence. These are: the Man-to-Man program is a court mandated program for adult males who have been convicted of violence against an intimate partner. The Changes program is a voluntary program for adult female victims of domestic violence, and the Alternatives program is for adolescent males who have come into conflict with the law.
- ‘And finally, please realise that it is not your fault. You do not deserve to be hit, to be insulted and ridiculed, to be touched intimately if you have asked not to be, to be treated like a doormat, to be threatened, attacked with a weapon, shamed…, told what to do when and with whom. You do not deserve to be abused in any way, shape or form.’ – http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/male_victims_of_domestic_violence.html
(The information in the section below is adapted from www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/male_victims_of_domestic_violence)
‘Abuse is a control issue – abusers believe they have the right to manipulate, control and humiliate another person, and this belief is not only held by some men but also by some women…’
- Men are frequently victims of abuse in the home, however they face a different set of reasons from women as to why they may not report such violence.
- Male victims may not recognise their experiences as domestic violence or abuse.
- Men are often made to feel as if they are the stronger, more aggressive sex and they may not recognise that they are being victimised, they may think it is ‘unmanly’ to show fear or vulnerability.
- They often feel that they are less likely to be believed or taken seriously.
- Despite this, many of the effects of abuse for the male victim of domestic violence are the same as for women. They are likely to feel deeply shamed, frightened, experience a loss of self-worth and confidence, feel isolated, guilty and confused about the situation.
- Domestic violence is not always physical, and a lot of men, in common with many women, face daily emotional, verbal and psychological abuse in silence for years, their self-esteem being slowly eroded away, more and more isolated from those around them.
- Even if a man is physically attacked by their partner, he may take the beating rather than hit back to defend himself. He may not want to risk harming his attacker, and he may be concerned that if he does he risks being accused of being an abuser themselves. (www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/male_victims_of_domestic_violence)
- Men can also be victims of sexual abuse. A gay victim may be raped by their partner, suffering all the agonies any other rape victim would. Many men in abusive relationships do not feel in control of their own sex life, their partners may demand or coerce intercourse, may make derisory comments about their manhood or ridicule them in public. Any form of sexual contact which is knowingly without consent can be experienced as sexual abuse – regardless of gender. Many men also experience “sex as a reward for good behaviour” and the opposite of being denied any intimacy if they have (knowingly or not) done something to displease their partners, as being an abusive use of sexuality. In an abusive relationship, sex is often used as another form of manipulating and controlling the other person (www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/male_victims_of_domestic_violence)
- The information we have given above, about seeking help for victims, applies to both men and women. However we are aware that in the Caribbean, with a paucity of services anyway, services specifically to support male victims of violence are rare. Nevertheless, if you are a man and are being abused or have recently escaped an abusive relationship, please know that you are not alone. There are many men in your situation. Reach out and talk to someone, a friend, an agency, another family member, your Church – wherever you can get help, please do. You have the same rights to protection against violence as do women.
- There are several models for working with perpetrators of domestic violence, ranging from individual counselling, family-based interventions, community-initiatives and group programmes. Nevertheless in the Caribbean, there are very few specialist services and accessing treatment programmes is usually only possible if one has been convicted by a court or mandated by a court to attend such a programme. There is also a general lack of evaluation information from which to determine which types of interventions are effective. Nevertheless if you are at risk of abusing, controlling or harming your partner, it is your responsibility to get help and there are many informal sources of help.
- The first step is recognising that you have a problem – linked to this is the acknowledgement that no matter what, you do not have the right to use violence against another person.
- You may feel ashamed admitting to your behaviour, you may find it easier to blame this on your partner, on stress, on family problems. It will help you to take responsibility by talking to someone about your concerns. Be careful though, don’t choose to speak to someone that you know will simply confirm that ‘it’s not your fault’ or that ‘she asked for it’ – women do not want to be abused. Even if they say or do something that you feel is provocative – you are the one in control. Violence is a choice but you may need help to make a different choice – seek it!
- One programme about which there is extensive information is the ‘Man to Man Batterer Intervention Programme’ in Grenada, which is run by the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic. This programme has been running since 2005 and an evaluation report (conducted in 2013) provides very valuable insights into its impact from the perspectives of men. Why not read this report, especially the comments from the 16 sessions – this would help you to see whether you hold attitudes and values that contribute to the problem. (Google: Man to man programme grenada)
- You may be helped by reading about other treatment approaches. The majority of established perpetrator programmes in North America and the UK are said to be based on the Duluth model – you could find out what this is all about and see how abusers are helped to change. Other programmes to consider are the Domestic Violence Intervention Project and The Change Project – a community based domestic violence prevention programme. It is primarily for men who want to stop being abusive towards their partners but also works with female perpetrators, and provides individual, partner and group work approaches.