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Grim toll from domestic violence needs action, DPP says

The island has a domestic violence related murder and “multiple” incidents that involve serious injuries every year, the Director of Public Prosecutions has revealed.

Cindy Clarke said that statistics showed that the annual toll from abuse was evident in figures from over “at least the last 20 years”.

Ms Clarke told a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence that DPP figures for 2021 were not available, but highlighted statistics from 2020 that showed on average that “about 30 per cent of our cases were domestic related”.

She said: “Think about the amount of cases that come through this office. One third are basically domestic violence.

“That’s a pretty high number for such a small jurisdiction.”

The domestic violence awareness panel, organised by Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors and held on Monday, also heard that domestic violence and abuse could include workplace behaviour and landlord-tenant relationships.

Susan Adhemar, a psychologist, told the panel that “violence in the home towards parents, from their teenagers, their children” often went unseen.

Ms Adhemar said: “It’s under-explored, under-researched, under-recognised.

“There’s a lot of shame about it. Parents don’t want to acknowledge the fact that their children have committed some form of abuse against them.”

She added that abusive behaviour could be copied by children.

Tina Laws, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre, confirmed there were cases where children were “very aggressive or taking over the household”.

Ms Laws agreed children often witnessed abuse in the home and mimicked it.

The panel coincided with the start of February’s Teen Dating Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

Laurie Shiell Smith, the executive director of the Centre Against Abuse, said the agency had seen a jump in the number of domestic abuse cases increase over the past four to five years.

She added: “For police, their major call-outs are domestic — they get 80 to 85 calls a month.

“The hospital averages 50 recorded cases every year.”

Ms Shiell Smith said the Department of Child and Family Services was “definitely seeing increases in their cases that they have with children involved in domestic abuse situations”.

She added: “Unfortunately, we do not have a central repository that will house all this information — it’s something the Government should look into.”

Ms Furbert said the Government was looking into a “special project as it relates to capturing information on domestic violence” in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Lindsay Simmons, a senator and junior social development and seniors minister, highlighted the need for education about domestic violence in schools.

Ms Simmons, who last November revealed her own sexual assault and abuse ordeal, added: “We might be able to save a life — or know what the signs are.”

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Published February 03, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated February 03, 2022 at 7:53 am)

Grim toll from domestic violence needs action, DPP says

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