Perpetrators of domestic abuse must seek professional help
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Members of the Women’s Progressive Organisation showcasing their banner on Thursday at the candlelight vigil at Beterverwagting, East Coast of Demerara
Members of the Women’s Progressive Organisation showcasing their banner on Thursday at the candlelight vigil at Beterverwagting, East Coast of Demerara

–WPO General-Secretary tells candlelight vigil

IN observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO) on Thursday hosted a candlelight vigil at Beterverwagting on the East Coast of Demerara in support of victims of domestic abuse.

WPO General-Secretary, Sheila Veerasammy

WPO General-Secretary, Sheila Veerasammy told the Guyana Chronicle that sensitisation of domestic abuse is necessary to curb its effects. She noted that many women are in abusive situations, but do not realise they are until it becomes physical, hence one of the purposes of the exercise was to share information that could help women.

“Many times when persons are experiencing domestic abuse in any of its forms, whether it is

emotional, sexual, verbal, nonverbal, emotional, many of the times it’s taken for granted that these other forms exist; they just believe if he doesn’t hit me, doesn’t leave marks or cuts on my body, then I am not a victim of domestic violence but domestic violence has many forms,” Veerasammy said.

A member of the WPO holding a candle in support of victims of domestic violence (Elvin Croker photos)

She stated that in many instances, domestic abuse is dealt with as a “taboo” topic, which results in many women not knowing the resources they have available to them.

According to Veerasammy, the WPO on Thursday hosted nine vigils, simultaneously, across the country, in Anna Regina, Patentia, Belle West, Tuschen and Albion Road in a bid to further bring awareness to the social ill.

She noted that while the vigil was to stand with the victims of abuse, it also serves as a reminder to the perpetrators to “seek help” from professionals to control their urges.

Veerasammy said that in most cases, the perpetrators are afraid to seek professional help, because they do not want to be viewed as an abuser, and as such they continue to abuse their spouses in private. She reminded her audience that the only way domestic abuse can be eradicated is if the perpetrators decide to seek the necessary counselling, and are better prepared to deal with situations without physically, verbally, or emotionally abusing their spouses.

She told the Guyana Chronicle that the group intends to open up itself to be an ally to victims of domestic violence.
She encouraged victims to seek the resources of both the group and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security as a means of exiting the situation.

“We have the Ministry of Human Services that has the Probation Department, and they can be reached out to, to get counselling. The WPO has hundreds of groups across this country, and we are saying to people, reach out to our comrades and seek help from them; that our comrades may not be professionally qualified to provide counselling, but we have older comrades who have a lot of experience, and they can provide salient guidance to young couples,” Veerasammy said.

Veerasammy further said while it is expected that domestic violence victims take control over their lives, a collaborative effort is needed to achieve this task.

She noted that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security (MoHSSS) has been implementing new systems to tackle domestic abuse, but there must be a better collaboration by the police in helping these victims stay protected.

She reminded persons to utilise the Ministry of Human Services’ ‘914’ domestic violence hotline. In December 2020, government launched the ‘914’ hotline as a result of the significant decline in the reporting of domestic violence and child abuse, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want them to seek guidance from Help and Shelter; we want them to seek help from the Ministry of Human Services and any other NGOs or church-based organisations that are willing to help them.

Domestic violence is no longer a private matter; it is a public issue that requires the help of everyone, and, collectively, we can do something about it. Individually, it is pretty difficult. We need the police, we need the churches on board, and we need to bring an end to domestic violence,” Veerasammy declared.

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