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No good reason for abuse

Trinidad Express / Why do women abuse men? Why do people stay in abusive relationships? These are questions that will always be asked till the end of time as the cycles of abuse continue to claim more victims. The press reported last week that there were 991 reports of domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago for the period January 1 to October 31, 2016. The information came from Joanne Archie, Assistant Superintendent of Police, who shared these statistics while delivering remarks at the anti-domestic violence seminar commemorating the International Day For The Elimination of Violence Against Women. These figures, are perhaps a drop in the bucket as there are many victims of abuse in this country who suffer silently and live in the shadows of their abuser. No one can truly understand the torture and pain a victim endures until it literally hits home or a loved one faces such a nightmare. A few years ago, I was horrified to learn that a close relative of mine was a victim of domestic violence. She hid it until it could no longer be contained and the truth came out. My relative, who did not live close to me would speak with me regularly on the phone but was only seen on special occasions. On one of those special occasions she was coming to visit with her husband and children. She was driving and got into an argument with her husband and in his anger he pulled up the hand brakes on the highway, the car spun several times and ended up in the ditch on its hood. I got a phone call from her, she said “I got into an accident, come now”. I dropped everything and raced out the house and when I arrived there I thanked God everyone was alive. That accident became the breaking point for her. Following that incident, she opened her eyes and decided to let it all out. She knew there was no end and if she didn’t get out, she could become a statistic. She revealed it all, the years of pent up pain, the physical and emotional abuse. For years she was abused by her husband and when we asked why did she stay, why did she not reach out for help, she said she always hoped and prayed that he would stop. She said after he hit her, he would always express how sorry he was, how he would not do it again. Shame kept her from breathing a word to a soul. When she broke her silence, our family became her army of angels and with the full support of both family and friends she was able to walk away from that hell. I admire her for her courage, I am proud of her for having faith that there was life outside of the cycle of abuse for both she and her children. The scars of emotional pain will never go away but just know there are many forms of support to leave a situation for survival. I shudder to think what could have happened if she stayed and it deeply saddens me to know there are women who do stay, who are crippled with fear and do not see a way out. A victim must recognise that the abuser will never change and must look for any possible avenue to seek help. I have seen many patients who are victims of abuse. They didn’t have to say a word as some bore the bruises on their arms and other body parts. Some confided and cried and many, thankfully, reached out and got the support they needed to escape the dark clutches. There are signs that a person can look for to identify an abuser and quite often people misinterpret jealousy as a sign of love. It is not. It is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. The minute a person, either man or woman questions a partner about where they are going, who they are going with and the accusations of flirting start, watch out. Watch out when the phone calls and visits turns into possession. Controlling behaviour is another red flag. The batterer will argue that his or her actions are meant to protect you. The abuser will fly into a fit of rage if his partner is not readily reachable. The behaviours will worsen and he may stop the victim from going where she wants and communicating with others. The home becomes a prison. There is a saying that how a man treats his mother is reflective of how he would treat his wife. Also watch how a person treats children and animals. A person who can brutally kick a dog or slap a child is an abuser. What can be considered as the playful use of force in sex is also a warning of potential abuse. A man may want to become physically violent. He may want to act out fantasies during sex where the woman is helpless and may also tell the woman that the idea of “rape” excites him. He may start having sex with the woman while she is sleeping, or demand sex when she is ill or tired. Watch out. I know a lot of women tolerate the abuse and say they are staying because of the children. Do not ever make your children the excuse for sacrificing your life for pain. There is no excuse and forgiveness for hitting. None.

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