Categorized | National News

More Bahamians Speaking Out On Abuse

After nearly three decades of turning a blind eye to abuse, officials at the Bahamas Crisis Centre said Bahamians are finally becoming more aware and vocal about the controversial issue.

But, Crisis Centre Director Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson said this newfound sensitivity to these thorny issues did not always exist

“For the first 10 years there was absolute denial,” she said. “There was a feeling that we don’t have these problems here and there were problems that occurred in America and problems that occurred in the developed world and we didn’t have these types of issues, like sexual and child abuse.”

“So I’d say that for the first 10 years we did a lot of consciousness raising, petitioning; we went onto the streets and talked about the criminalisation of incest. There were a lot of heads in the sand about incest. This is something that kids don’t really talk about because a lot of adults would say that children lie, in fact, children don’t lie and if they do they would lie in the opposite and say that it didn’t happen when it did. So for the first, early years that was our main battle.”

The Crisis Centre will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year and Dr. Patterson said over the past three decades the organisation has had to fight tooth and nail to get Bahamians to be more conscious and willing to speak out about the various forms of abuse.

She said for years victims and witnesses hid behind their pain and never reported or discussed taboo issues like incest, sexual harassment and rape.

But today, Dr. Paterson said victims and whistleblowers now have a renewed sense of confidence and power in standing up for their rights.

And she said this was more than evident with the outcry that came after 11-year-old Marco Archer’s brutal death last year and the kidnapping and rape of a six-year-old girl five years earlier.

But even with these successes, the director said there is still a lot more work to be done when it comes to raising awareness and speaking out about adult sexual violence.

“The other issue is sexual harassment that takes place in the workplace,” Dr. Patterson added. “I don’t think we address it and I think our current legislation just deals with harassment from the point of view of work and really doesn’t make it easy.”

“I am a firm believer of naming problems; you name issues. We named incest, we named child abuse, we named domestic violence, we have to name intimate partner sexual violence. That’s something everybody is running from, this whole issue of marital rape.”

This, Dr. Patterson said, is what she calls the last frontier of domestic violence.

“Rape is a very serious issue and a lot of people don’t want to talk about it,” she added. “If you were robbed, you would go to the police right away, but if you were raped you may not go right away.”

“You might decide that this is not something you want to talk about. But the whole issue of sexual violence with intimates is an issue that needs to be discussed.”

She added that with the continued help of volunteers, the Bahamas Crisis Centre will be successful for 30 more years.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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