May 04, 2021 Letters
In Guyana, the level of domestic violence has once again risen sharply, almost to the level of open season on females. As we look at the state of the nation, one is forced to ask the question what in the world happened to us. Why are so many men killing women in time, on time, all the time? So many names come to mind as recent as Shonette Dover and Nichola Wilson, among many others.
Notwithstanding, the focus has always been the effect of domestic violence on the primary victim, while very little to no attention is being paid, as to what effect does witnessing domestic violence has on secondary victims, such as children who live in homes where partner abuse occurs, leading to death in some cases.
I state this because anything involving domestic relates to the home environment, the very same place where children are first taught and instilled the morals and values of how they will view and react to the world. As such, it is a proven fact that whatever the child sees displayed in the home will be repeated in their adulthood, if some type of empowerment or awakening transition does not take place in their mind before the full level of maturity is attained.
Research has also shown that witnessing domestic violence can lead children to develop an array of age-dependent negative effects. Children who grow up in violent situations possess an instinctual “fight or flight” response to situations. In other words, such children immediately rise to anger and fight a situation (often leading them to commit violent crimes later or become abusers themselves), or simply shut down or flee from a situation.
On an assumptive plane, could today’s perpetrators of domestic/intimate partner violence, be the fruit of a generation of males who were earlier witnesses of female abuse. Females who had remained silent on account of embarrassment, fear, stigma and marital obligation, hence the continuation. Young boys who grow up in a household and see first-hand abuse by male examples, often have a tendency to mature and exhibit the same behaviour. On the other hand, young girls who grow up and see abuse around them perceive this as a way of life and in some cases a display of love.
Researchers, theorists and advocates working in the field of gender-based violence have suggested that a thorough understanding of violence against women necessitates the recognition that many factors play important roles in the aetiology of such violence. Despite the efforts of the Guyanese government to curb domestic violence directly, it is blatantly evident that thus far, the government has failed to tackle successfully the intergenerational norm of domestic violence that has now become a part of Guyanese culture.
The Guyana Domestic Violence Act enacted in December 1996, in addition to providing the legal framework for domestic violence cases, also explicitly details the role that the Guyana Police Force is expected to play in upholding the Domestic Violence Act.
As a consequence, the government is called upon to do a better job of enforcing laws against domestic violence and also raise greater awareness about the dangers of domestic abuse for children and by extension society. It is utterly imperative that the younger generations are not only taught but also empowered, so that they can successfully navigate the world independently and have safe and healthy relationships. The younger Guyanese generations must recognise that domestic abuse, or for that matter any type of abuse, is totally abnormal to either assert or be the recipient of. Once this is understood and takes place, domestic violence in Guyana will then be recognised as a violation of the most basic human rights, instead of a seeming cultural norm.
Every single aspect of this domestic violence issue cannot be presented here and is not the principal reason for this article. The issue is dangerously affecting communities, as well as affecting the trajectory of the future generation. In fact, the issue is becoming as problematic as that of oil.
Parents are the number one influencers on a child’s life. A child cannot bring change in their home environment, but parents can. Through the courage of their parents, the next generation can learn a healthier way to be in relationships and move forward in life.
The call has been sounded for domestic violence to cease as we all strive to be better loving humans, with more attention being paid to what the young ones see.
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