Lending a hand against domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence should be given the correct advice and the right support if they are to free themselves from the cycle of violence in an abusive relationship.

Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) Advocacy Officer Hastiny Subramaniam was speaking at an online talk on ‘Domestic Violence: Break the Silence!’ that was jointly organised today by WOU and WCC, and attended by about 60 people.

HASTINY TALKS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HOW TO HELP VICTIMS.

Hastiny informed that the violence often starts with tension building and less severe forms of physical or verbal abuse, before proceeding to acute battering as the abuser’s anger escalates dramatically. Next is the honeymoon stage, where the abuser apologises or rationalises the violent incident and puts the blame on the victim. The victim may believe the abuser’s promises to change and chooses to remain in the relationship.

She said victims may also remain with abusers to keep the family together, or they feel trapped by threats to harm them or the children, or they are totally dependent financially on the abuser.  

SENIOR LECTURER DR LALITHA RAMASAMY, FROM WOU’S SCHOOL OF BUSINESS & ADMINISTRATION, MODERATED THE TALK.

She urged the public to be alert to potentials signs of abuse – e.g. bruises, cuts, behavioural changes – and extend help if they sense a domestic violence situation.  “Do not blame the victim or utter discouraging remarks. Assure confidentiality so that they open up and share.”

She said the other ways to help victims are to advise them of their rights and to accompany them if they want to lodge a police report. “You can also take them to hospital to get medical treatment, approach a social welfare officer for aid, or contact any NGOs for counselling, shelter, legal advice and court support.”

SUPPORT IS PROVIDED TO VICTIMS UNDER THE ACT. HERE ARE A FEW HOTLINE NUMBERS TO CONTACT FOR ASSISTANCE.

During Q&A, she said that victims may withdraw their police report when the perpetrator apologises. “Once they abuser is not violent, they choose to go back and that is alright but make sure the victim knows what to do if she is caught in a violent situation again. Lodging a report and taking legal action is important, but at the same time, you have to think about the healing process of the woman.”

To another query, Hastiny clarified that victims can visit the emergency department of the nearest government hospital as they have a one-stop crisis centre, complete with in-house medical personnel to provide the necessary intervention, including temporary shelter and help to lodge a police report.

WOMEN’S CENTRE FOR CHANGE OFFERS COUNSELLING, SHELTER, LEGAL ADVICE AND COURT SUPPORT.

Regarding enablers who advise victims to tolerate the abuse for the children’s sake or to avoid any social stigma, she said this is risky for the victim and the reason why many victims are stuck in abusive relationships.

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