The Hidden Cries of Domestic Violence in Jamaica
In the Caribbean, domestic violence is justified and tolerated based on perceptions that men feel disrespected, inadequate or feel their partner is unfaithful, which they often feel gives them the right to beat them; such beatings often lead to the death of women. One adversely affected social group includes women and children who suffer in silence by the vicious plague of domestic violence. Growing up in Dominica, I witnessed many incidents of domestic violence, but the term “domestic violence” was never mentioned, nor was its part of the cultural terminology. I would hear things like “she caused it” and “she needs to listen when de man talk to her”; it was always the woman's fault. The damaging results of domestic violence are destroying families and fragmenting communities can lead to long-lasting traumatic experiences for individuals, especially victims. Many components tie into domestic violence; a man who physically, emotionally, and mentally abuses his wife or children is just one. Domestic violence is an abusive behavior that allows one partner to intimidate or to gain power and control over the other ("Domestic Violence - Definition, Examples, Cases, Laws", 2019). It incorporates emotional abuse, physical violence, mental violence, and psychological mistreatment. Despite many laws in the Caribbean on domestic violence, women and children are not getting the justice that they deserve. Some men in the Caribbean use tactics to exert power over their spouse or partner including dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial, and blame. Intimate partner violence (IVP), sexual violence, and physical abuse are common types of violence against women in Jamaica and often impact children.
The first ever Women Health Survey 2016 conducted in Jamaica shows “that one in four women (25.2%) have experienced physical violence by a male partner, and 7.7% has been sexually abused by their male partner. Lifetime prevalence of intimate physical and/or sexual violence was 27.8 per cent. The survey also shows that women you entered a live-in partner relationship at an early age have a high prevalence of intimate partner abuse” (Watson Williams, 2018). Moreover, The Women Health Survey stated that “severe acts of violence include slapping, beating with a fist, pushing, kicking or attacking with weapon or threatening to do so. Intimate partner violence is perpetrated mostly by men against women with the confines of their relationship “behind closed doors” and women and children are the most vulnerable members. Sometimes these older men prey on young women who still not emotional mature about what healthy relationship should look like and are expose to intimate partner abuse which sometime lead to physiological trauma (Watson Williams, 2018). According to Morgan and Gopaul, “one continuing cause of domestic violence is undoubtedly the difficulty men find in managing conflict and disagreement and their own sense of powerlessness; in relationships marked by unresolved conflict between women and men, the latter often take the offensive at the expense of women and children, in their bid to maintain power and control.” Further, women’s development has, of necessity, required them to take control of their lives, personally, professionally and by advancement in the public sphere, and this very advancement seems threatening to men: measures foul intended to enhance the position of women are being interpreted as steps toward the marginalization of males. This interpretation, though perhaps more perceived than real, has added to the spiraling patterns of domestic violence” (Morgan and Gopaul 1998). Violence, then, is exacerbated as an inevitable result of extreme male insecurity. In one study of male views carried out by the Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago in 1993, men readily expressed their concern that the education and working sectors were hostile to their interests, and that it was only through the sex act that they are able to display power over women (Babb 1997, 107).