Global statistics show that a domestic violence survivor sustains an average of 33 assaults before seeking help. The Family Resource Centre says it is equipping Cayman’s front-line staffers to provide a platform for local victims to come forward before getting to that stage of violence.

Twenty-three front-line staffers from various local agencies and charities last week completed training under the latest offering of FRC’s Domestic Violence Intervention Training Programme, according to a Government Information Services press release.

Globally, there have been reports of spikes in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many countries to implement shelter-in-place measures to control the spread of the virus. This meant that, in many cases, victims were forced to stay at home with their abusers.

In Cayman, police and other agencies say they have not seen a similar spike in domestic violence numbers, but those who work with survivors say they believe a lack of access to various reporting agencies may be the reason why more incidents are not being recorded.

Cayman’s shelter-in-place regulations contain a provision which states that a person may leave their residence during the lockdown in order to avoid being harmed.

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FRC’s programme trainer Mehr Lamba welcomed local efforts by agencies to try to assist survivors.

“With COVID-19 having required the shelter in place restrictions, there is increasing concern about those who live in abusive homes, such as children. It’s worth noting that many agencies, like FRC, which work in this field, have made adjustments to their services to meet the needs of their clients during this difficult time,” she said in the press release.

The five-day training course was an interactive workshop offered virtually via Zoom. Participants included six Public Safety Communication Centre (911) personnel, and staff from, among others, Hope Academy, Kindness Awareness and Compassion Foundation, Cayman Islands First Baptist Church and Delta Air Lines, who tackled topics that included the legal definition of domestic violence, commonly held misconceptions about abuse, and the different types of such abuse.

Charmaine Miller, FRC programme coordinator, said the programme, which has been running for a decade, is usually held three times a year.

This year, however, the programme was conducted online, due to the COVID-19 restrictions now in place.

While it was a novel way to present the training, Miller said, it also allowed for wider participation and possible expansion.

“This is the first time it’s been delivered virtually, and we are extremely pleased with participants’ uptake and engagement over the course of the online training,” she said in the release. “Moving forward, we plan to continue offering at least one online training a year. This will allow for more participants in Grand Cayman to easily access our training, as well as those in Cayman Brac and in Little Cayman.”

Participants in the workshop discussed the effects of domestic violence on survivors and their families. It also “educated participants that domestic violence is about power and control, not anger”.

“The DVITP educates front-line professionals (e.g., police officers, educators and human services professionals). It also gives participants a comprehensive overview of how several agencies provide complementary services to support survivors and perpetrators,” Miller said.

The training involved agency presentations, group discussions and videos. Representatives from RCIPS, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), Needs Assessment Unit, Department of Community Rehabilitation, Department of Children and Family Services, and the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre joined FRC facilitators in presenting the programme.

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