The reality of violence

| 05/04/2009

Although there has been a lot of talk recently about addressing the issues of gender violence in our community we will not succeed without a significant shift in cultural perception.

The way Cayman currently views the abuse of women by men they know as somehow different to a violent attack by a stranger demonstrates that the community still has a long way to go before the rhetoric regarding violence against women becomes a reality. A recent news story about a woman who had been severely beaten by her boyfriend, a man who has now been charged for the offence of Grievous Bodily Harm among others, was greeted by some troubling comments in the reader’s forum on Cayman News Service.

A number of commentators berated CNS for the headline Woman attacked at home, which was precisely what had happened — a woman had been attacked at home and beaten very severely by a man she knew. It is extremely unlikely that her pain was any less unbearable or her injuries any less sever because they were cause by hands familiar rather than strange to her. If anything the emotional pain would have been worse as the violence was committed by someone she might have trusted and even loved.

The issue is quite simple: violence is violence wherever and between whomever it occurs and it must be roundly condemned. Moreover, this violence that occurs in the home is something that all woman need to fear as much as they fear stranger-danger. Women are much more likely to be hurt or even killed by the men they know and often love. Fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, boyfriends are the men that commit violent acts on women.

If we continue to perceive and define domestic violence as something we should fear less than stranger violence wewill not change the cultural particularism that makes it acceptable in this community and allows it to go on while friends, family and neighbours turn a blind eye. Violence of any kind is unacceptable and we must repeat that mantra. We should not be bringing our children up in a culture that accepts violence as the way to resolve conflict and problems.

People often talk of Cayman as a very peaceful and law abiding community, and by and large this is true. Yet behind closed doors violence reigns as the way to address relationship and family problems. Parents still beat children and men still beat women as a way of managing family life. Violence is tied in with issues of masculinity, control and conflict resolution in a way that the modern world is rejecting. Violence cannot be the answer to any of the complex and stressful issues that are associated with families and relationships. Violence is always wrong. 

With tough economic times ahead those triggers to violence and short fuses often associated with violence in the home may be shorter than ever, resulting in more men using their fists to try and control the world around them. It is now that women need more than ever to firstly be on their guard at home as much as on the street, and above all when it happens they must have the courage not to take the beating but to call the police and see through the prosecution. Until these men face the consequences of what they do and are given an opportunity to understand their violent behaviour and why they behave and react as they do, women will continue to live in fear in our community.

The idea that anyone could have breathed a sigh of relief when she read beyond that headline is terribly sad and more importantly completed misguided. All women need to be afraid of men who have been socialised in a community where violence is used as a reaction to conflict and stress. We need our women to fight back, not with violence but with words and the law. We need to speak out against this cultural practice and we need laws with teeth as well as understanding in the community at large that a woman attacked in her home by a man she knows is no less a victim of crime than one attacked by a stranger.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Even when a man admits domestic violent acts the Court does nothing.  When I phoned the police they said that they couldn’t help me or really do anything.  There isn’t any help in the Cayman Islands for women who are victims of domestic violence.   

  2. Anonymous says:

    Domestic violence does not aways involve physical violence; all forms of abuse must be condemned but please do not discount the very damaging effect of verbal abuse which seems to come so easily to some females. Males is Cayman in particular are spoilt by their mothers who are afraid to offend them even when they are quite young. This results in an adult who knows no boundarys and are used to having their own way. As to the barmaids who are brought here to catch men, that is a worldwide phenomenon just as prostitution is worldwide. These facts will never change as long as women use their sexuality to get attention obtain money and acquire employment.

    • Anonymous says:

      actually some of the barmaids just get money from the guys without even giving them sex.  The guys buy them all kinds of things hoping for sex.  Their employers get the sex and the customers get nothing.

      It’s a sad situation but take this into consideration., when I worked in the bar, I made $3.50 hr plus grats. The bartenders for the local bars make about $100 a week and have to rely on tips.  I worked for a hotel bar so we had gratuities.  They are being exploited and I don’t think it’s fair to them or the Caymanians. 

      Another thing is the Caymanian men and their mindset.  When the Americans came to the bar, they assumed I was saving money for college.  The Caymanian men thought…well, we know what they think women are there for.

      And I don’t care about prostitution is all over the world.  It’s time for women to take a stand. All of these singers/actresses in Hollywood need to start being better role models.  We need to stop being sex objects.  I’m tired of it for sure.  We are people and we have feelings too.  We aren’t robots put here to cater to their every whim.

  3. Judy Singh says:

    Thank you for articulating this tragic condition so perfectly Wendy.

    It is appalling to me also how many people think getting attacked by someone you know makes getting attacked LESS of an issue.  These are the kinds of things we really need to take a moment and consider.  Do we want to be a culture of barbaric patriarchal status quos or do we want to create an environment of safety and equality for all?

    Estella’s fight was against just this sort of complacency.  Let’s not let her or ourselves or our children down.  

    If you see violence or know about violence, please call the police so that these people can face the true consequences of their actions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well said!  The public outcry of the last 12 months sits uneasily with the private reality of island culture.  When I attended The Family That Preys at the cinema there were loud cheers for a man who hit his unfaithful wife.  This is hypocrisy.  Violence is violence.  There is not good violence and bad violence.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree.  Many times the men say that they caught the woman with anotherman as an excuse.  I told a guy that told me that that’s what he deserved.  He goes to Hondurus and have sex with woman there plus the women that works for him in his bar and his wife must just stay home and take care of the children while he does what he wants.  If he isn’t taking care of his wife and I know he wasn’t because he was cheating on her then if she gets someone else leave her alone.  The men expect to have their cake and eat it too.

      What people don’t know is that this controlling behavior started with emotional abuse and that is no less damage than physical abuse. 

      Domestic abuse shouldn’t be singled out as a lesser crime of violence.  Those people should go to jail longer.  Even the police is too nachalant about this.  "Oh, it’s just a domestic disturbance".  I called the police on my baby’s father who I was living with because he destroyed my cell phone and then pulled my computer out of the wall.  I didn’t know what he would do next so I called them.  One of the police officers said that I shouldn’t have called them because they don’t see any damage to my things.  I told him that I was scared.  I don’t know what else he would do.

      I’m tired of the abuse situation.  We women are being abused physically and emotionally by these men.  I am starting to feel sorry for some of the foreign women because they have to take it because they are not from here.  I know of a Hondurus girl that went back home because her married Caymanian boyfriend ran over her with his truck.  He is a lawyer so what is her recourse?

      All the girls taht work in the bars from Hondurus and Philipines are just brought here to catch men.  Some of the bar owners are having sex with them too.  That’s abuse as well because they have the fear of being sent home.