Today’s Editorial February 06: Domestic violence awareness

On the surface, it would seem like a 66 per cent increase of reports of domestic violence between 2005 and 2006 is bad thing.

However, the increase does not mean that there was more domestic abuse occurring in the Cayman Islands in 2006; it only means there was more domestic abuse cases reported.

That is a very good thing, because it means that less cases are going unreported, which has historically been the case.

The only way this country can come close to putting an end to domestic abuse is to encourage the reporting of it. And it is only through raising awareness of the problem that more people will feel comfortable doing that.

Everyone in this society must realise and believe that domestic violence is wrong and unacceptable. It might have had a long history here and in other parts of the world, but that does not excuse the practice at all. No woman – or man – deserves to be abused, whether that abuse is physical, sexual or psychological.

The victims of such abuse should also understand what it is that is happening to them is wrong and know that they are not at fault.

It is through public education efforts that the message can get out. Based on the statistics, it appears the efforts are working.

The Women’s Resource Centre has taken the lead in raising the awareness of domestic abuse and we commend the staff and volunteers of that organisation for all of their hard work.

The goal of reporting domestic violence is not to have the guilty offender thrown in jail. Families often rely on the offender for financial support and punishment is not what victims want. Instead, they merely want the abuse to stop.

But only by reporting any abuse will the steps be taken that can likely end that abuse. Intervention is the key.

Only by having the offender understand that what he or she is doing is wrong and not acceptable behaviour can change occur. As is the case with many such things, the first step in solving a problem is recognising that there is a problem.

Although there was a large increase in the number of domestic abuse cases reported last year, there were undoubtedly many more that went unreported.

As awareness about domestic abuse continues to rise, hopefully it will convince those who have still remained silent to come forward to try to change things.