Police: Spike in domestic violence victims

The T&T Po­lice Ser­vice's Vic­tim & Wit­ness Sup­port Unit (VW­SU) has not­ed a 70 per cent in­crease in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims be­ing re­ferred to it.

Speak­ing at the week­ly po­lice press brief­ing at the Po­lice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day, the unit's man­ag­er Aisha Price-Cor­bie said they pro­vid­ed as­sis­tance to 195 vic­tims be­tween April and June as com­pared to 116 from Jan­u­ary to March.

Price-Cor­bie said the sta­tis­tics al­so showed there was a 34 per cent in­crease in clients be­tween Jan­u­ary to Ju­ly this year in com­par­i­son to the last six months of last year. She sug­gest­ed that the in­creas­es were due to the unit's com­mu­ni­ty out­reach pro­grammes.

"We have ap­plied a hands-on ap­proach where we do not just wait for cas­es to come to the unit, but we have been go­ing out to com­mu­ni­ties, schools, re­li­gious groups and health fa­cil­i­ties among oth­ers," she said.

While she not­ed that all do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­ports are re­ferred to the unit, Price-Cor­bie rec­om­mend­ed that per­sons con­tact them as soon as ver­bal and emo­tion­al abuse is no­ticed, as this may be a pre­cur­sor to phys­i­cal abuse.

"We have seen a num­ber of in­stances where per­sons may have un­der­es­ti­mat­ed the risks of the volatile na­ture of their sit­u­a­tions," she said.

As she said the unit as­sists vic­tims by help­ing de­vise plans to ad­dress the vi­o­lence, Price-Cor­bie not­ed that a large num­ber of vi­o­lent at­tacks oc­cur af­ter re­la­tion­ships have end­ed.

"Per­sons are re­mind­ed that end­ing a vi­o­lent re­la­tion­ship does not au­to­mat­i­cal­ly re­sult in in­creased safe­ty. Re­cent in­ci­dents would have shown that per­sons who may have met their demise through do­mes­tic vi­o­lence-re­lat­ed homi­cides would have re­cent­ly left an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship," she said.

In ad­di­tion to coun­selling and ap­pli­ca­tions for pro­tec­tion or­ders, Price-Cor­bie said the unit as­sists with in­ter­ven­tion op­tions, in­clud­ing safe hous­es.

Dur­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion, Price-Cor­bie al­so re­vealed that since be­ing es­tab­lished the unit has pro­vid­ed coun­selling and sup­port for at least 14,575 per­sons who were af­fect­ed by crime.

"Of the 396 mur­ders record­ed for the year to date, the VW­SU has been able to as­sist the fam­i­lies of at least 75 per cent of the vic­tims," she said.

While she not­ed the unit helps all cit­i­zens, she said chil­dren are most like­ly to face last­ing ef­fects of crime.

"This is crit­i­cal in mit­i­gat­ing the ef­fects of un­re­solved trau­ma, which from our ex­pe­ri­ence shows that these ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences of­ten form the gen­e­sis of dys­func­tion, sub­stance abuse and fu­ture crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty," she said.

- by Derek Achong

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