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Domestic violence in the spotlight

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The vexing issue of physical violence in our society, in particular domestic violence, is again under the spotlight.

Usually, our outrage is stirred when we are made aware of particularly horrific incidents of cruelty, as in the recent case of the Biabou woman who allegedly was set ablaze in her bed by her boyfriend. But even while we were discussing that atrocity, a new dimension was added to our discourse last week, when disc jockey turned political hopeful Colin Graham confessed to having abused his girlfriend. Now, this is a most unusual turn of events, for while it is believed that domestic abuse is fairly common, way too common, in Vincentian society, rarely do men admit to their transgressions, particularly one seeking political office.

The difficulty now for many people is deciding how to respond to a man who admits to being an abuser and who says he has apologized to the victim. Graham is to be commended for taking the first step towards healing and restitution; but is he now absolved of all wrong?

It has been interesting to note how many people, both men and women, have rushed to provide support to Graham, on the strength of his admission of wrong. While female victims of domestic violence tend to receive some measure of sympathy from society, very rarely do we hear men speaking out in women’s defence, in the large numbers we are now witnessing in Graham’s case. It is all very interesting.

It would also be interesting to see the response of the New Democratic Party (NDP) to Graham’s revelations and whether the party will now ratify the nomination he received from the party’s East St George constituency council as their representative.

Our lead story in today’s SEARCHLIGHT highlights another aspect of domestic abuse, that of children in the home. A three-year-old boy is dead and while the cause of death has not yet been ascertained, there have been allegations by residents of the community that little LJ may have been the victim of abuse.

Violence by intimate partners, one on the other, and violence of adults on the children in their care, are related and come from the same place – poor conflict resolution skills and the desire to exercise control and dominance over someone who is physically weaker. The home is the incubator of the violence we are experiencing in our society and no matter what law enforcement measures we put in place, it is only when our homes become places of peace that peace will reign from shore to shore.

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