The domestic violence intervention training programme held its annual three day programme on 14-16 October.
It was originally one of the initiatives put in place by Mrs Estella Scott Roberts in her role as officer for Women’s Affairs in 1999. The agencies involved decided to go ahead with the training programme in honour of her.
Mrs. Scott-Roberts was killed the night of 10 October and her badly burned body found in her vehicle along the dykes roads in West Bay.
The programme is devised for professionals working in the frontline with cases of domestic abuse. Ms Miriam Foster, acting programme officer for the women’s resource centre, explained ‘the aim of the three day programme is to get all the agencies together so that everyone is working from the same page and knows what the other is doing.’
Over the three days the focus was on issues such as the definition of domestic violence, what zero tolerance within the community actually meant in practise and about creating a better understanding of the psychology of both victim and perpetrator.
Ms Foster said ‘all too often you hear the comment from people not involved – why don’t they just leave- but it is never that simple. Victims have many different worries and things they have to consider. It’s not just as simple as just walking out. There can be children, other family members, financial worries and where they are going to go and emotional confusion all coming into play. We professionals, we have to understand what we are doing when we ask victims to leave.’
The trainers on the three day programme were from the Women’s’ Resource Centre, and the Crisis Centre and attending were representatives from the police social services, health professionals and the church.
Pastor James Jackson from the Faith Christian church went to the training programme because he had had two cases of domestic abuse within his own congregation and he wanted to have more information about how he could help and direct people in these situations about practical help such as finance, housing or counselling.
He was shocked by the statistics for domestic abuse he had heard over the three days.
He felt the most important message was that ‘domestic abuse needs to come out from within four walls and communities should show that they have zero tolerance towards it’.
He added that he would like to think that women would see the church as a safe place where they could get empathetic and confidential support.
There was the feeling among the pastors that churches in the past had turned a blind eye to domestic abuse and in fact condoned it by emphasising the importance of standing by marriage whatever the circumstances and that a clear message should be sent out to congregations that abusers would not be sheltered by the church.
Pastor Conway King was there in his capacity a school counsellor.
‘Sometimes the children become the forgotten victims of domestic abuse, it becomes about the two parents yet the children also need emotional support. If children can be supported within school through awareness programmes and referral then it can stop the cycle continuing where they become the abuser or abused.’
For him the three days was about liaising with other people involved in tackling domestic abuse and ensuring as agencies that there was a firm network of support in place to help the abused.