Safe Haven director Cassandra Richardson about domestic violence: “Our society has become complacent”

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GREAT BAY – “Domestic violence is the action of control or power from one partner to another.” according to Cassandra Richardson, managing director at Safe Haven (a non-profit organization which offers free shelter, counseling and supportive services to victims of domestic violence), “not just intimate partners, but it can also be anything that happens under family members – violence that takes place in the home”.
Domestic violence exists on St. Maarten, and though it may happen to both men and women, statistics prove that victims are more likely to be women. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
“And it’s not to say that domestic violence doesn’t happen to men too. It does, and it does happen by women to men as well. But when we look at the statistics, and when we look at the proportion in which that happens, women are by far more victimized by men than men are by women, men by men, or women by women,” Richardson says.
However, the stigma against domestic violence remains, and it inhibits victims to seek the help they need. “There are a lot of women who don’t feel comfortable talking about their story even though that’s the first step to real recovery. Women are a victim of the perception of ‘What will they think about me’ or ‘If I start telling people, they will think that I’m stupid or that it’s my fault for letting it happen. I could’ve left.’ There is a lot of judgment,” Cassandra Richardson says.
“A common misconception is that victims remain in abusive relationships because of love. While that may be the issue or a small part of it, it is the only reason. It gets more complicated when you have children involved, if a partner is financially dependent on the abuser, or if the family wants the partner to stay with the person.”
“When you look at domestic violence in a gender glance, where it’s gendered motivated, that it’s because there is the idea of men being more powerful and more worthy than women – so that men are more valuable and things that happen to women are not that valued. When you look across the world, and when you look at domestic violence that is the issue.”
Another issue concerning domestic violence is that it has become normalized – something to be expected in a relationship, because it is often seen in homes and surrounding areas. “It is not normal,” Richardson emphasizes. “Some of the things that we just find so normal like yelling at each other or raising our voices at home. What we pretty much take as normal, other places would take as abusive. It’s what the culture decides on, but even beyond what the culture decides on, I think there should be an understanding of what is appropriate and what is abuse.” “As a society, we have become complacent, and normalized a lot of the unhealthy behaviors that happens between partners.”
“Society can change. Culture can change. It is not stagnant.  I would like to see the government promote values and ideas that reflect healthy relationships between men and women. And once the government starts doing that, the society will pick up.”
According to WHO “There are a growing number of well-designed studies looking at the effectiveness of prevention and response programs. More resources are needed to strengthen the prevention of and response to intimate partner and sexual violence, including primary prevention, i.e. stopping it from happening in the first place.”
“Society can change. Culture can change. It is not stagnant.  I would like to see the government promote values and ideas that reflect healthy relationships between men and women. And once the government starts doing that, the society will pick up.”
According to WHO “There are a growing number of well-designed studies looking at the effectiveness of prevention and response programs. More resources are needed to strengthen the prevention of and response to intimate partner and sexual violence, including primary prevention, i.e. stopping it from happening in the first place.”

Source: TODAY http://today.sx/news/safe-haven-director-cassandra-richardson-domestic-violence-society-become-complacent/

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