Domestic violence is a problem that’s not going away.
Counsellors who work with people abused by their partners said there has been an increase in the number of complaints and the amount of victims seeking refuge.
And this ties in with figures from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service that indicate there was a rise of more than 80 percent in domestic violence cases in 2016 compared to the previous year.
The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre offers shelter and support to people in an abusive relationship.
Executive Director Ania Milanowska said: “In the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of women and children accessing our safe shelter and also in the amount of crisis calls we receive.
“We attribute this upsurge to overall increased awareness and knowledge about available help and services, and at the same time significant decrease in societal acceptance of a behaviour which its purpose is to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner.”
Miss Milanowska said women are often more vulnerable in the days after they end the relationship – as their ex-partners have lost control.
“The time right after leaving an abusive relationship is very dangerous,” she added. “Victims are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving the abuser than at any other time in the relationship. When the victim leaves, the abuser loses what they desire the most, which is control.
“On the other hand, the victim becomes a survivor, who have proclaimed the right to live a life free from abuse and fear.”
Although each case is often different, the message counsellors give to victims is often the same – they are not to blame. “What we say to a victim of domestic violence, changes their reality,” Miss Milanowska said. “The most important thing for the victim of abuse is to know that it is not their fault, they are not alone and that the help is available.
“It is very important not to judge, give advice or place conditions on your support, but rather express concern, listen, offer help and support his or her decisions and of course, call our 24 hours crisis line 943-CICC (2422).”
To influence future generations, the Crisis Centre has now opened a specialist facility for younger people.
The TAYA Lounge (Teens And Young Adults) is a place were troubled youths (aged 14-21) can address, build and strengthen relationships with their peers and families.
TAYA is a meeting place for the youth to share in a safe, comfortable and non-judgemental environment.
As well as the opportunity to talk to a qualified counsellor, staff provide support, stable connections, life skills training, recreational activities and therapeutic groups to address issues such as, family of origin issues, child maltreatment, domestic violence, sexual abuse, dating violence and healthy relationships, childhood trauma, conflict resolution and anger management.
The lounge has a relaxed, inviting atmosphere to engage teens and foster their “attachment” or investment in activities and it is a safe place to discuss and work on personal impediments to growth into stable, self-sufficient adults. You can contact TAYA Lounge via email [email protected] or phone 949-0366.
If you are affected by domestic violence, or know anybody who is, contact the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre’s 24 hour hotline 943-2422.