Domestic violence can be defined as any violent or abusive behavior directed by one family or household member against another.
Domestic violence is a serious issue in Saint Lucia today. It has been reported that during the period January to December 2014, 353 cases were put before the courts out of which 241 were heard and a final conclusion arrived at. However, in the year 2015, records revealed that a total of 592 applications were made to the Family Court. It is believed that the above figures have increased significantly over the Last five years.
However, according to a 2010 survey conducted by the UN Development Program (UNDP), in which over 11,000 male and female adults in seven Caribbean countries were interviewed, 9.7 percent of people surveyed in Saint Lucia had experienced some form of physical violence
(such as punching, kicking, or the use of a weapon) by a member of their household, a rate that was slightly lower than the Caribbean-wide average of 10.9 percent.
Statistics on the number of women killed as a result of domestic violence, or other statistics pertaining to the frequency of domestic violence in Saint Lucia, could not be found among the sources consulted by the research. Also it was discovered that there has not been any comprehensive study that provides statistics on the number of women who are experiencing domestic violence in this country and that while some data is collected, there are numerous problems with managing that data.
What causes domestic abuse? The causes of domestic violence are varied. Consider that during the period from 1993 to 2005, the average annual criminal domestic violence rate per 1,000 persons (age 12 or older) for intimate partners or relatives was 5.9 for females and 2.1 for males. These were actual physical attacks or threats to cause bodily harm or death. Many more people are likely abused in silence or subjected to non-criminal forms of abuse like verbal or emotional abuse. The fact is that some things cause these numbers for violence to go even higher under certain circumstances. While the circumstances below do not cause domestic violence to happen (because only a person’s behavior can inflict such harm), the situations below are proven through Studies to correlate to increases in the intensity of violence and abuse. The emphasis is on understanding these correlations so that solutions and help can be more effective in addressing the problems. One consequence of impoverishment is a higher rate of domestic violence and, mainly women need the help of shelters to avoid the choice between abuse or homelessness.
Alcohol abuse causes personal instability, and this same troubling characteristic leads an already abusive person to perpetrate domestic violence, especially when combined with the decreased inhibition caused by intoxication. Drugs and substance abuse is also serious. Many of the same stresses and desires that cause substance abuse go hand in hand with domestic violence. And because drugs are addictive, cause further financial hardship, and further decay of health and relationships, the cycle of violence almost always will become worse without treatment for both the drug abuse and the domestic violence. Homelessness is one of the causes of domestic violence and a fear that creates a mental and emotional trap.While homelessness does not appear to make people violent, a home filled with domestic violence does lead to a higher rate of homelessness, especially amongst women and children. This higher incident of shelter deprivation, women running to safety with no place to go, is also related to the conditions of poverty.
The Domestic Violence Cycle is a circle that is continuous and never-ending unless the victim breaks the cycle of violence. In this way, the domestic violence cycle and the tendency toward domestic abuse are in and of itself the primary cause of domestic violence. The circle often starts in childhood where abuse is witnessed by a juvenile who is broken by these incidents to eventually become an abuser themselves. Once the cycle begins tension builds, then an explosion occurs. After the first explosion, the period of violence causes the level of abuse to escalate and become more tragic gradually. Regardless of the cause, it is vital that the victims of abuse get domestic violence help to stop the partner abuse cycle.
Christians recommend marriage as a foundation to start the family. The sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a committment for life between a man and a women in union with God. It is the best way to start a family and raise children. Because continuous daily prayers and worship of God and obedience to His commandments are critical. Above all the christian way of life provides a greater opportunity for healthy living and the fellowship with one another through love.
Let us all remember how Jesus Christ taught us to live. In love with each other in our communities, homes and family life.1 John 4:7 reads: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Mark 12:28-34.Speaks of “The Greatest Commandment”
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?“ The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these.”
God Bless You!
Deacon Peter Fevrier
Family and Life Secretariat
Old Battery Road