In a surprising revelation last week, the head of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Family Services Unit said reports of domestic violence against males had increased by more than 86 per cent this year.
There have been 54 cases of domestic violence reported to Cayman Islands police in 2007 which involved male victims.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Inspector Claudia Brady said that’s compared to last year’s 29 reported cases involving male victims.
Inspector Brady said it’s likely that these cases are simply being reported more often as awareness about domestic violence spreads through the islands.
‘(The men) are not as embarrassed,’ Ms Brady said. ‘They will not be stigmatised and pretty much made fun of because they’re coming forward.’
Domestic violence incidents involving women are still far more prevalent in the Cayman Islands. This year there have been 165 cases reported involving female victims, compared to 141 cases last year; a 17 per cent increase.
This year’s increase follows a 66 per cent increase in domestic violence reports for 2006 compared to 2005.
‘We have all managed to bring the issue to the fore,’ said Children and Family Services Director Deanna Look Loy. ‘People are less inhibited now with regard to speaking out and also seeking service.’
Mrs. Look Loy’s comments came following a Friday morning meeting with several local groups who assist domestic violence victims. Visiting Foreign Commonwealth Office Minister for Overseas Territories Meg Munn also attended.
Ms Munn applauded Cayman’s efforts to bring the issue to light, but she warned officials against complacency.
‘Ultimately, the real challenge is to change the culture which thinks its okay for any person to hit another person to get their own way,’ she said.
Failure to report domestic violence is not a particular problem to Cayman, Ms Munn said.
‘This number is coming down, but the statistics in the UK would show that on average a woman has been hit 24 times before she seeks assistance. It’s very, very hard to (report). There will still be lots of hidden domestic violence.’
‘The majority of cases are probably still not reported,’ Mrs. Look Loy said. ‘We know from our own study which was conducted in 1997 that there are women in our country who feel nothing is wrong with being hit. So there’s a cultural aspect that needs to be addressed as well.’