Protect vulnerable people against abuse

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Services Family Support Unit is issuing the following advisory in relation to the protection of vulnerable people.

The protection and procedure of how to protect vulnerable persons aim to provide a system that promotes awareness, reporting and investigation of abuse.

The problem

A variety of abuse, which involves all kinds of persons, is widespread. However, more specifically, the abuse of vulnerable persons has largely gone unnoticed and unreported.

As a society it is our duty to provide the care and protection to these vulnerable persons to avoid and abolish abuse.

In part, shortcomings are due to the difficulty in detecting a problem, which tend to occur behind closed doors. It is also due to the lack of commitment that others have not contributed in order to help prevent such unfortunate incidences.

Taking action

Only by tackling the issue with determination can we stand any chance of protecting the basic human rights of vulnerable victims.

We need to be able to recognize the types of abuse that vulnerable persons may suffer from; the types of person(s) committing the offence; and to be aware of procedures, which will assist you or any other person who is being abused.

Who are vulnerable Persons?

• Persons who are mentally incompetent

• Persons who have been abused

• Persons with neuro-motor impairment

• Persons with low socio-economic status

• Persons who are old and frail or have some form of illness

• Persons who may be unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves

from harm or from being exploited

• Persons who may be suffering from physical disability

• Children

What is abuse?

Abuse is the mistreatment of a person that is caused by another person or persons that violates that person’s human and civil rights.

The abuse can vary from verbal disrespect that psychologically affects a person’s mental state to physical suffering a victim will receive from another person.

Where can a person be subjected to abuse?

Abuse can happen anywhere – in residence or nursing home; a hospital; in a workplace; at a day centre or educational establishment; or in the street.

Forms of abuse include:

• Physical abuse such as hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, misusing medication, scalding, restraint, hair pulling.

• Sexual abuse such as rape, sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not or could not have consented, or to which they were pressurized into consenting.

• Psychological or emotional abuse such as threats of harm or abandonment, being deprived of social or any other form of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, being prevented from receiving services of support.

• Financial or material abuse such as theft, fraud or exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property, or inheritance, misuse of property, possessions or benefits.

• Neglect such as ignoring medical or physical needs and preventing access to health, social care or educational services and withholding the necessities of life such as food, drink and shelter.

• Discriminatory abuse such as harassment or physical harm based on one’s disapproval of race, sexuality or disability.

Any of these forms of abuse can be either deliberate or a result of ignorance; based on lack of training, knowledge, and/or understanding. Often if a person is being abused in one way they are also being abused in other ways.

What to look out for?

The way people can be abused may vary and these warning signs can be an indication that abuse is taking place:

Physical signs of abuse:

• Unexplained marks, bruises or injuries may be a sign of physical or possibly sexual abuse.

• Financial abuse cause by insufficient money to cover bills, food and other living expenses.

• Neglect may be determined by poor hygiene, little or no food, or lack of emotional care in the home.

Behavioural signs of abuse:

• Behaving differently; or signs of fear in the presence of certain individuals.

• Feeling frightened and depressed, with a sense of hopelessness.

Who might be causing the abuse?

The person who is responsible for the abused victim is very often well acquainted to the person abused who could be:

• A paid care worker or volunteer

• A relative, friend or neighbour

• An occasional visitor or someone who is providing a service

• A person(s) who deliberately exploit vulnerable people

What to do?

If you think someone is being abused or someone is abusing you, contact the following agencies:

• RCIPS Family Support Unit at 946-9185

• RCIPS Neighbourhood Policing Department at 949-4222

• Your Community Beat Officer

• Department of Children and Family Services at 946-0024 in Grand Cayman and 948-2331 in Cayman Brac.

• The Crisis Center at 949-2331

• Your local police stations in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman or;

• 911

Your concerns will be taken seriously and will receive prompt attention.

What if the abuse is also a crime?

If the abuse is also a crime such as assault, rape, burglary, theft and/or child neglect and abandonment you should involve the police to prevent someone else from being abused.

When the police are involved you will be provided with necessary support to assist you.

The police will work in collaboration with other agencies to support your needs.

If you know of someone being abused and feel uncomfortable contacting the police you may contact any of the other agencies to assist you. Another option is calling Crime Stoppers at 800-8477 or telling someone you trust.

What will happen?

When you call for help and the police are involved your complaint and concerns will be:

• Listened to and taken seriously

• The gathered information will be given to the appropriate person involved in the investigation

• Ensured that all the necessary actions are put in place, appropriate for your safety

• Given immediate medical treatment if you are injured

• Taken to further resources, such as counsellors and shelters, who can provide appropriate services to your needs

• Ensured that your best interest is, at all times, considered.

Inspector Angelique Howell of the RCIPS Family Support Unit said: ‘If you are being abused and feel unable to call for help yourself, tell someone you trust and ask him or her to do it for you. You are not alone.’

FYI

For more information on the fight against gender violence please contact the Royal Cayman Islands Police Family Support Unit at 946-9185 or call 911.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800 (TIPS). Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and could be entitled to a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest.