Police have received more than 1,900 domestic violence reports this year, but a new multi-agency partnership is hoping to turn those numbers around.
The Alliance to End Domestic Violence, which comprises seven government and non-profit agencies, was formally launched Tuesday night during a ceremony at Government House.
The partnership is under the patronage of Elisabeth Roper, wife of Governor Martyn Roper.
Roper said she was pleased to be part of the effort to combat domestic violence in the Cayman Islands.
“By bringing together the organisations which, one way or another, work with and help these survivors, the alliance hopes to ensure that survivors can navigate their way through the official channels more easily,” she said.
The alliance will be chaired by the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre and includes the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Community Rehabilitation, the Family Resource Centre, the Gender Affairs Unit, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Roper said through the work of these agencies, the alliance “aims to support the survivors and to help and empower people to live their lives free of domestic violence. They also aim to educate the wider public on how domestic violence impacts the whole of society.”
Mehr Lamba, outreach coordinator with the Crisis Centre, concurred. She said the alliance has been in the works for some time and held its first meeting in July.
“We are here to let the public know that all of these wonderful agencies here are working together on a daily basis [and] are coming together to really start the process to end domestic violence in Cayman, and now the work will begin,” Lamba said.
The alliance, according to its introductory statement, will consult and work with other community organisations as necessary, as well as directly consult with people who have experienced domestic violence.
Lamba said the objective of the alliance is in its name – to end domestic violence in the Cayman Islands.
“We really believe that it can be done,” Lamba said. “Cayman is a really small place and we have actually an opportunity here to make the public aware what domestic violence is, to work together with agencies to make the process for people who have experienced domestic violence simpler and really make it as easy as possible for people to live lives free of violence – that really is our goal.”
Ania Milanowska, executive director of the Crisis Centre, said the launch was timely as October is domestic violence awareness month.
She stressed that partnership is critical to the work of the various agencies.
“We simply cannot effectively support victims of domestic violence on our own,” she said.
“Together we will continue to involve service users in assessing and enhancing the quality of care and support provided and are motivated and committed to making continuous improvements to the services.”
Peter Lansdown, the detective superintendent in charge of the policing arm of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), said the alliance is a vital partnership in the fight to stamp out domestic violence in Cayman.
“All of the elements of the alliance are working together to engender trust, to get the community, the victims to recognise that the government and all of the agencies are here to help them and it is to encourage people to come forward to us,” he said.
Lansdown explained that, through the alliance, police can deal with the initial response and calls for service. “Rehabilitation can deal with offenders, social services can deal with the victims, children social services can deal with the children so, as a team, we will be far more effective,” he said.
In the initial stages, Lansdown said he expects there may be increased reporting of domestic violence.
“But, ultimately, we should be able to reduce the incidents across the island. The aim will be to stop domestic violence in the Cayman Islands. That is a very ambitious aim; we want to reduce it as much as possible,” he said.
Lansdown added he believes that by “dealing with incidents professionally, arresting perpetrators and giving advice and help to victims and families, we can stop that violence happening and stop it re-occurring in the future.”
Alliance to End Domestic Violence members
Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Community Rehabilitation, the Family Resource Centre, the Gender Affairs Unit, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.