TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: During the first month of 2020, Trinidad and Tobago experienced a string of horrific domestic violence crimes. Domestic violence is not uncommon in the Caribbean. However, it recently escalated to have fatal consequences. Crimes that included the murder of at least one mother and her minor children. (Mom, 2 sons throats slit in La Horquetta)
This new phenomenon is a startling trend that the government plans on addressing with the implementation of a hotline dedicated to those specific types of crimes. Hopefully, this will help put an end to Trinidad and Tobago’s Domestic Violence crisis. (The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-SAVE-7283)
Prioritization of domestic violence will hopefully shine more light on the underlying socioeconomic and psychological issues. More importantly, it provides added avenues of protection for victims. It will, nevertheless, take a collective effort by the community at large to actually remedy this alarming problem.
Psychology of Domestic Violence
A 1993 study on the psychology of abusive relationships indicated that three major predictors of domestic violence are sex, money, and paternity. The sex factor indexed the general quality of the sexual relationship dynamics. The money factor indexed the couple’s socioeconomic relations.
And the paternity factor indexed the genetic stakes held in the family by the woman’s main sexual partner. (Figueredo, Aurelio Jose and Laura A Mccloskey. “Sex, money, and paternity: The evolutionary psychology of domestic violence.” (1993).
Victims oftentimes feel compelled for one reason or another to stay with their abuser. Either for financial or emotional reasons. Sometimes both. Those emotional reasons being the break up of a family, particularly when kids are involved. Victims need to be reminded that staying in an abusive relationship is no better for the well being of their children than the emotional distress of filing for divorce.
Solving Trinidad and Tobago’s Domestic Violence crisis
Attorney Don Lezama, of Charles, Skerritt and Associates, advises his clients to separate themselves from an abusive spouse at the earliest onset of domestic violence attacks. Too often, victims believe that the spouse will change their aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
More often than not it escalates with horrific, sometimes even fatal consequences.
Mr. Lezama says,
“Looking back on these recent murders, there must have been some indication, early on, that the situation could eventually become untenable. He says it is important for individuals to read the warning signs and take appropriate action.”
This is the only way to solve Trinidad and Tobago’s Domestic Violence crisis. Staying silent prolongs the abuse.
Legally separating from the abuser
Mr. Lezama, who is also a divorce attorney, sees these cases all the time. Most often victims begin to take action when it is almost too late. According to Trinidad and Tobago Judiciary’s official website, the first step is usually to file a protective or restraining order barring contact or communication. This formalizes the legal separation process; allowing for criminal prosecution in the event of further acts of violence or aggression.
Protective orders last for up to three years.
A divorce, especially if there are joint assets or dependent children is generally the next step. And as unpalatable as it is, it beats the grim alternative which can, oftentimes, be as heinous as death. According to the Trinidad and Tobago Office of the Prime Minister’s official government website, between 2010 and 2015, 131 reported deaths were domestic violence-related. This is an alarming national statistic.
Domestic Violence Hotline
Individuals are urged to call the Domestic Violence Hotline 800-SAVE(7283). This is a critical first step to help put an end to Trinidad and Tobago’s Domestic Violence crisis. In addition to the hotline, a central registry is designed to provide effective monitoring of domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago; quick identification of victims and perpetrators of abuse; and the timely response and holistic intervention.