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Domestic Violence – a force to reckon with

By admin / Posted on 05 September 2010

September 5, 2010

There are many theories that attempt to explain why some men use violence against their partners. Some of these include the following: chemical dependency, economic hardship, family dysfunction, lack of spirituality, poor communication skills, provocation by women and stress, according to New Jersey based Pandit Suresh Sugrim, an activist against domestic violence. According to him, although the aforementioned theories can be linked to the abuse and battering of women, they are in fact not the cause. “If the associated factors are removed the violence of men against women will not come to an end. The abuser begins using violence as an effective method for gaining and keeping his control over someone else. He continues the abuse for the same reasons. It is sad to say but the abuser usually does not suffer any adverse consequences because of his behaviour,” Pandit Sugrim asserted.

He observed that history shows that violence against women has not been treated as a ‘real’ crime. As a result, the lack of severe consequences such as economic penalties and incarceration for men guilty of abuse and battering allows the social problem to persist unabated. Men who are known abusers and batterers are rarely ostracised, the activist added. Most abusers and batterers, he underscored, are accepted by the people in their communities regardless of how they treat their partners. “Usually no one can tell by looking at them that they are abusers because they come from all backgrounds, groups and personality profiles. But there are some characteristics that fit the profile of abusers and batterers,” Pandit Sugrim speculated.

Abusers, according to him, see women as objects and by extension have no respect for women as a group. This state of affairs he related is often directly linked to the abusers’ low self-esteem, hence he feels powerless and ineffective. Sugrim explained that although an abuser may appear to be successful he usually feels inadequate. “An abuser finds external excuses for his behaviour. He will blame his violence on having had a bad day, alcohol or drug use, his partner’s behaviour or anything that comes to mind to excuse his violent actions. He may be charming and pleasant between his acts of violence thus outsiders may view him as a nice guy,” Pandit Sugrim added. However, abusive behaviours could be recognised by some known warning signs he noted, such as bad temper, cruelty to animals, extreme jealousy, possessiveness, verbal abuse and/or unpredictability.

But a woman’s decision to stay in a violent relationship could turn out to be a very complex situation, Sugrim noted. According to him, while there is no profile for the “typical woman” who will be abused or battered, there is documentation on what generally happens once the violence begins. Abused and battered women will experience embarrassment, isolation and shame and may not leave the violent relationship immediately because of a number of reasons. “She realistically fears that the violence will escalate and may become fatal if she tries to leave; she may not have the much-needed support of her family and friends if she leaves; she knows how difficult it will be to be a single parent with reduced financial support; she may still be experiencing good times, love and hope mixed in with the manipulation, intimidation and fear; She may not know where to get help or have access to a safe place and support.”

In fact, according to Pandit Sugrim, some women are of the belief that getting a divorce is not a viable alternative as they have been taught that a single parent family is unacceptable and that a violent father is better than no father. Many women have been taught that they are responsible for making their marriage work thus they believe that a failed marriage means that they have failed as a woman. An extension of the situation, he observed, could also lead to some women becoming tolerant of their abusers’ actions, a development which in many cases results in serious injuries and even death for the abused.

In order to further boost efforts to address the problem of domestic violence locally, Pandit Sugrim, through the New Jersey Arya Samaj Mission, recently handed over a cheque valued at just over $100,000 to Help and Shelter. According to him, it has been observed that the problem of domestic violence has become very rampant in Guyana and there is an urgent need for additional support to arrest its prevalence. “Every day that I read the newspapers and see another woman raped, another woman killed by her live-in boyfriend or husband…it is one of the most disgusting situation…”
Recognising this state of affairs, Sugrim said that he is expecting that Help and Shelter could be one of the key entities that can help to lobby for tougher laws even as they work towards further empowering women. And once there is progress in the added sensitisation drive, Sugrim revealed that further funding is likely to be forthcoming. “Our funding comes from the benevolence of the Guyanese American and from other communities across the United States.”

Sugrim disclosed that Help and Shelter was chosen to receive the assistance as it is one of the local entities that have been passionately addressing the issue of domestic violence over the years. “I have done some research and they have been addressing this burning issue…so we are willing to support them to deal with this problem.”

 

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