Buddy system plan for women affected by violence
A buddy system could be set up to help women affected by violence after the Deputy Governor brought together community leaders to discuss how they could tackle the problem.
Alison Crocket invited people from the worlds of business, charity and politics to a reception on Monday, where she revealed that she was once left “bloodied and injured” on a neighbour’s doorstep after she fled from a violent ex-partner.
Ms Crocket explained: “My belief is that violence against women is made easier because it is accepted ... everywhere in society.
“Myths and assumptions create an environment where boundaries are blurred and violence of all sorts is tolerated.”
The gathering marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and was organised by Crystal Swan, a Government House executive officer.
The Deputy Governor listed some misconceptions around violence against women, including: “We make them do it. ‘You must have really provoked him, he’s such a nice guy’.”
She said: “Those words came from my former next door neighbour in France, at 2am when she opened the door to me, having escaped my own home from a violent ex-partner.
“Bloodied, injured and in a state of extreme disarray.
“She — and it was a woman, I think it’s important to remember that it is not just men that believe the myths — also declined to call the police, leaving me no choice but to return into the house with my assailant, since there was no other way out.
“Her words articulated what many people think and are the reason why many women are afraid to speak out — because we believe we have caused the violence.
“Women who are victims of violence spend much time searching for what they did wrong. They stay in relationships because they believe that if they just try a little harder he won’t do it any more.
“Fortunately, I had the unconditional love and support of a wonderful family, friends and good colleagues who told me as many times as I needed to hear it that it was not my fault and, in time, I healed and grew strong again.”
Ms Crocket told the reception, which was attended by Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, that November 25 had been observed as a day against gender-based violence since 1981.
The date was chosen to honour the Mirabal sisters, who were murdered on a remote mountain road by former Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo’s secret police in 1960 for opposition to his regime.
Ms Crocket said: “Much progress has been made since then, but a great deal remains to be done.
“A third of the world is yet to enact legislation to criminalise domestic violence and 37 countries still permit rape provided the assaulted woman is married to or is to be married to the assailant.”
The Deputy Governor pledged to challenge her own prejudices and stereotypes.
She said: “Women who are the victims of all kinds of violence are not weak or hapless.
“There is no ‘type’ of woman who is the victim of violence. We are all susceptible, but some have greater means to change their circumstances when they are ready to do so.
“I will certainly never believe that some women ‘ask for it’.”
Ms Crocket also promised to be there “for any woman who needs my support” and committed to “calling out bad behaviour whenever I see it”.
Representatives from the Centre Against Abuse and the Women’s Resource Centre were among those who spoke at the event.
Several of the guests, who were all women, said that they would be happy to be involved in a buddy system.
Ms Swan said she planned to take the idea further and will look at other ways to create year-round assistance for those in need.
She said after the reception: “This initiative is to give more avenues for women and young ladies who are suffering with violence to seek support.”
Ms Swan said she has seen for herself how a “positive impact” on those affected by violence can help them to recover.
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