Dozens of local activists marched in silence through George Town on Monday evening to spread a simple message: Love shouldn’t hurt.
The activists participating in the Business and Professional Women’s Club’s 15th annual Silent Witness March carried large, red silhouettes of women to represent all those who have been affected by domestic violence and the many individuals trapped in hurtful relationships who suffer in silence.
“Domestic violence, sadly, is surrounded by silence,” Silent Witness March co-chair Patricia Muschette said. “Too often individuals are reluctant to intervene.”
Ms. Muschette and others who participated in the march said they hope that more people will speak out about domestic violence and will offer help to those they suspect may be in need.
“Having endured years of domestic violence myself, and knowing personally how much of a frightening, lonely and horrible experience this can be, my hope is that we as a community can find better ways to combat this violence,” she said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Brougham, who participated in the march and spoke at the event, said that Cayman Islands police deal with cases of domestic violence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said there have been nearly 800 reports of domestic violence this year, and that many more cases likely go unreported.
“Imagine how difficult it is for a victim of abuse or violence to actually talk to a stranger,” Mr. Brougham said. “A lot of this takes place behind closed doors and we’ll never know … what doesn’t get reported.”
He stressed that everyone has a responsibility to address the issue of domestic violence, that it is not just the problem of the person who is being abused. He encouraged neighbors and anyone who suspects domestic violence is occurring to report it.
Other speakers at the event included Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who talked about the importance of support in the workplace for colleagues affected by domestic violence, and three young female participants in the Family Resource Centre’s “Re-think Teen Leader” program who presented their thoughts on the theme of the event, “Love shouldn’t hurt.”
This year the Family Resource Centre joined with the Business and Professional Women’s Club so that the march represented not only victims of domestic violence, but also victims of bullying who frequently suffer in silence as well.
More than 60 people participated in the Silent Witness March, including representatives from the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation, the Family Resource Centre and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, in addition to other members of the public.
“The significance of this march is immeasurable,” Ms. Muschette said. “We can never do enough to bring awareness, educate, and try to eradicate the vices of domestic violence and bullying from our community.”