Family Services urges men to seek help and stop hurting our women
Monday January 11, 2021 --- It has been quite evident in the media recently that issues such as violence against women and girls seem to be topical in our society today. With the increase in awareness as it relates to gender based violence and the rise in Women’s Rights groups, one would think that the statistics would be on the decline. However, given our local scenario, we are witnessing the opposite.
For this particular piece, we explored violence against women from a male perspective in an effort to understand why some men hurt women and how they can seek help in an effort to avoid bringing harm to potential victims. To shed some light on this topic, Programme Development Specialist at the National Family Services Division (NFSD) of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) explained what she has observed and what research has shown as it pertains to why male perpetrators engage in violent acts against women.
She cited some of the characteristics of domestic abusers as usually being controlling, manipulative and that they believe they possess a preordained right to be in control in relationships. Often times they also see themselves as victims and hence after an attack, they would sometimes accuse the actual victim for making them hurt them. It is a psychological issue men encounter and this is the way they unfortunately make themselves feel empowered.
The popular saying, ‘hurt people, hurt people” echoes familiarity with these situations as the NFSD’s representative explained most perpetrators would have observed or undergone some sort of abuse in their early childhood which has created related trauma encouraging similar behaviour. This abusive behaviour is usually a learned trait and hence the cycle of abuse is repeated.
It is very unlikely that a person who commits violent acts against women would voluntarily seek help but in the event that they do, one of NFSD’s first suggestions is actually counselling which is a service they provide. Counselling is considered one of the first steps in an effort to unlearn a particular behaviour. The harsh reality though is sometimes therapy for men is only suggested after the person commits an offence. This is when the situation is brought to light by the authorities and recommendations are made for assistance.
NFSD deems it necessary for public information and education awareness campaigns to be developed and promoted in an effort to have victims speak out and have perpetrators seek help. Last year, NFSD hosted a series of successful parenting workshops for men and similarly going into the new year sensitization workshops for men to be able to have an avenue to speak out is being considered.
The spike in violence against women in the country, as we have seen in the media lately is being attributed in part to Covid-19. Since the lockdown, persons have been in close quarters and not having much personal space anymore has made already aggravated situations worse in some instances. In regular situations, Covid-19 restrictions have been stressful and in the case of most abusers, they usually have anger issues and given further constraints, minute conditions can trigger them to become violent. During the pandemic we have also seen an increase in the consumption of alcohol and drugs also encouraging violent rants by some men.
Outside of domestic situations, what we have also seen occurring in society lately is general acts of violence against women and girls by men unknown to them. In some instances, taking them against their will, abusing them and in some instances even proceeding to rape and murder these females. What the NFSD has explained is that in these cases, it is a clear indication that there is a breakdown in the value system whereby respect for women has been lost by these offenders. Recognizing the loss of values within the nation, the MSDFS plans to embark on a Values, Attitudes and Behaviours (VABs) campaign in early 2021 as part of a Vision 2030 strategy to build resilience and return to basics within Trinidad and Tobago’s population.
The NFSD reminds the public of its continued efforts to support and maintain the development of the family as the first and most important starting point for a better society. We invite and encourage persons in need of the services provided by the National Family Services Division to please call 623-2608; Ext. 6701 – 8. Additionally, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence can be contacted at 624-0402, Gender Based Violence Unit at 555/999 and the Hotline for Victims of Domestic Violence at 800-SAVE (7283).