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