This is a guest post, written by former Senator Davida Morris as a follow-up to my own earlier article.
On Domestic Violence
With the possible closure of the Centre Against Abuse’s safe house, and the recent attack on lawyer Georgia Marshall by the estranged partner of the divorce lawyers client, I am yet again made aware that as a woman in 2014 I still have to be wary of the opposite sex.
Somewhere in the back of my mind is the awareness to be on guard against any and all men because one can never know what thoughts they harbour in relation to women.
In light of the closure of the shelter I thought it important to look at why it is important and needed in our country.
Jonathan kindly provided the 2013 report from the Bermuda Health Council [PDF] and the most recent crime statistics [PDF], and in reading them I became increasingly concerned about the hole that the shelter is leaving.
The thing that struck me most was that the younger demographic (18-39) were more likely to have experienced domestic violence. I naively thought that the younger generation would be less susceptible because the message against abuse has been out there for so long that surely if they got into an awful situation like that they would soon leave.
Upon further reflection on the numbers I thought maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised considering the more prevalent messages we have received in reference to sex and relationships.
Considering Western society’s preoccupation with sex that pervades our advertising, movies and the worst culprits, misogynistic music and music videos. I don’t think enough is being done to counteract these erroneous messages which produce warped views on sex and relationships, which ultimately impact how men and women view themselves and relate to each other.
There is a real need to teach about healthy relationships. Domestic violence, in simplistic terms, is a mix of low self-esteem and a need to exert control, and there is a real need to improve the self-esteem of men and women.
I want to believe the increase in domestic violence reports are due to increased reporting and not an increase in incidents. Considering it takes on average 32 incidents for a person to report abuse I really hope that it’s due to increased reporting.
The closure of the safe house leaves a hole in our society that we simply cannot allow to exist.
The problems will not go away with the closure of this shelter.
This gap must be filled, not just for the sake of women fleeing abusive relationships, in need of the opportunity to rebuild their lives and self-esteem, but for the future generations so that they know this deplorable behaviour is not acceptable.
In the meantime one can only hope that people who have domestic violence as their lived reality have people in their lives who are willing to talk to them, build them up and support them in escaping their situation.