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Domestic Abuse
Lady Bird Walking

Domestic Abuse runs rampant throughout our world. It affects everyone of us, but it is much prevalent against women and girls. It is frighteningly prevalant in Jamaica, West Indies, the home of my ancestors, both ancient and comtemporary - my parents are both from the parish of Manchester. Sad, but true, those of us affected by abuse (and that is the majority of us - male and female) sometimes do not necessarily know that "it is abuse" nor understand why "it is abuse."

Domestic violence is physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse in an intimate relationship. It occurs when one person uses abusive tactics, such as fear, guilt, shame, intimidation, threats of harm to you and/or your family and friends) to gain power and control (wear you down, diminish your self-esteem) over a partner or former partner.

Domestic violence does not discrimate it exists in homes in every community, rich, poor, white, black, English speaking, or not. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. Women are more commonly victimized, however, men are also abused. Abusive behavior is never acceptable, it is never about love, it is always about power and control.

The effect on victims of domestic abuse is devasting not only to them, but their families, communities, countries and ultimately, our world.

Domestic abuse is also known as spousal abuse. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

There are many different forms of abuse, the common one being, physical, which is sometimes easier to "treat" by virtue of the fact that it is visible - one can see the bruises, broken bones and torn flesh. People are oftentimes sympathetic toward victims of physical abuse providing a form of support.

Forms of Domestic Abuse:
Physical - any offensive, intentional unwanted contact with the victim's body by either the abuser or an object within the abuser's control.

Sexual - any unwanted sexual behaviour (touching, kissing, date rape,) which interferes with the victim's right to say "no" to sexual advances.

Verbal/Emotional - anything the abuser does or says which makes the victim afraid, lowers their self-esteem, or manipulates their emotions in order to control the victim's behaviour. For example, name calling, put downs, yelling, threats of violence, isolating the victim from friends and family; intentionally embarrassing the victim in front of other people; threatening to commit suicide.

How can you help end violence against women and girls?

  • Treat friends, family and associates with respect
  • Encourage children to trust their instincts
  • Recognize warning signs of an abusive relationship
  • Don't question whether she is telling the truth about being abused
  • Don't blame her for her decision to stay, or go. Leaving a relationship, even an abusive one, is difficult.
  • Do not use "like a woman" as a put down
  • Do not use "boys will be boys" as an excuse
  • Teach children how to settle conflicts peacefully
  • Understand that love does not involve contro or ownership
  • Remember "Anger" is a feeling. "Violence" is an action
  • Do not belittle, humiliate and hit children
  • Advocate for anti-violence laws and enforcement
  • Raise the issue of dating violence in youth groups
  • Have or recommend support groups for victims and perpetrators of violence
  • Discuss domestic violence in premarital counselling sessions
  • Know what community based resources are available in case of emergency
  • Teach boys and girls to communicate clearly in relationships
  • Remember the inherent, life-bearing, life-giving, omnipotent, power of Woman; that without She, there cannot be, You, He, She, nor We."

Resources in Jamaica:

Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC)
47 Beechwood Avenue
Kingston 5
Jamaica, W.I.
Phone: (876) 929-8873 or (876) 960-9067
Fax: (876) 968-9260
http://www.wrocjamaica.org

Women's Media Watch Jamaica
14 South Avenue, Kingston 10
Email: wmwjam@hotmail.com
Tel. (876) 926-0882
Fax (876) 929-7079
http://www.womensmediawatch.org/index.php

Bureau of Women's Affairs
5-9 S Oden Avenue
Kingston, St. Andrew, Jamaica
Email: info@bwa-jamaica.gov.jm
Phone: 1-(876)-754-8575-8, 1-(876)-929-6660
1-(876)-618-1496-9
http://www.bwa-jamaica.gov.jm

Woman Inc
The Crisis Centre
For counseling on matters concerning Rape, Incest, Domestic Violence, Sexual Harrassment at the workplace
7 Denehurst Avenue
Kingston 10, Jamaica
Email: w.i.crisiscentre@cwjamaica.com
Phone: 1-876-929-9038
Fax: 1-876-926-3091

Pure Potential
A privately-operated Jamaican therapy company, comprised of internationally trained therapists, social workers, educational consultants and conflict reduction practitioners
Mandeville, Manchester
Jamaica
Email: purepotential@live.com
Phone: 876-476-1724

The Vagina Monolgoues, 2011, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth
7 PM, Saturday, April 30, 2011, The Banquet Room, Frenchman's Reef Restaurant & Bar

The story behind the artwork, "Highway To Being!"
This acrylic on paper original artwork was inspired by an encounter I had, with a man, at the checkout of my local supermarket in Portland, Oregon. This man behind me in line, became audibly upset when, speaking of having performed in The Vagina Monologues, I said "vagina" out loud and in public. A tad perturbed by his reaction, I told him that, "He was standing there by virtue of having slid down the "Vagina Highway."

When the dust settled, we had a lovely conversation. "Ire is so inpiring, and ultimately healing, if we dare!"

Love the art? Buy notecards, buttons or pillows featuring "Highway To Being!"

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Copyright 2000-2008 Sharon Martini. All Rights Reserved.