|Participants of Domestic Violence Intervention Training
A two-day Domestic Violence
Intervention Training seminar for police officers, social workers and concerned
community members was held last Wednesday and Thursday at the SunBreeze Hotel
conference room. Participating were 12 police officers from each of the caye's
police departments, council members, the health care industry and other
significant educators, counselors and community members of Caye Caulker, San
Pedro and Punta Gorda.
The main focus of the two-day
training was to make everyone aware that domestic violence is a crime and needs
to be fought on all fronts. The creation of a manual for the course and the
training itself were the first steps. It was stressed that police and other
"front line workers" need to be able to respond to situations of domestic
violence appropriately. Further stated was, "effective intervention will lead to
a gradual reduction in domestic violence" and in turn alleviate some of the pain
of its victims. The following subjects were covered in the seminar: gender
awareness, profile of a batterer, cycle of violence, the cost of domestic
violence, victim friendly responses, why women stay in abusive relationships,
masculinity, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Families and Children's
Interviewing Inspector Linden Flowers, he explained
the program as "very beneficial" for his officers. He stated one of the main
lessons learned was that no matter if a person had been the victim of domestic
violence once or several times, they need to be treated as though it were their
first incident. The Inspector was impressed by the many individual ways victims
react to domestic violence and the number of possible techniques used when
interviewing victims, based on their reactions. Those attending were sensitized
to the reasons individuals, especially women, remain in abusive relationships,
namely because of a lack of self-esteem, financial need, or threats of physical
violence to the individual or their children if they leave. Inspector Flowers
also mentioned how domestic violence affects the community as a whole, not only
the family members involved, but also their relatives, friends and neighbors.
The cost associated with domestic violence was another interesting subject that
surprised many and how this money could be better spent benefiting the family.
These costs involved everything from legal fees and police time to time missed
from work and the charges one must pay to the hospital or clinic if physical
abuse is involved.
attended as a concerned member of the community, and stated it was "a very good
seminar" but hoped more people would have attended. "It is surprising to know
that some residents are not aware of the amount of domestic violence in their
own community," Mrs. Guerrero commented. She thought the presentation was very
informative and worthwhile. Mrs. Guerrero further stated how impressed she was
at the presentation given by Sergeant Robinson and also by the number of local
police officers present.
Project workshops have been
conducted throughout the districts of Belize aimed at improving the capacity of
all "front line" workers to understand and assist victims of domestic violence.
The domestic violence training project is being undertaken by the Caribbean
Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA). Belize Project Coordinator
Katherine Mendez of CAFRA was assisted by Police Coordinator Rudolph Orio. Ms.
Mendez commented that San Pedro was very welcoming and that attendees made her
feel "right at home." She was impressed by those present for the training and
commented, "It is good to see the people in charge take an active interest in
educating themselves and the people working with them."
Presenters for the training were Sergeant Viannie Robinson and Corporal Faye
Usher who underwent previous training in domestic violence. CAFRA is committed
to understanding the relationship between the oppression of women and other
forms of oppression in society. Working actively to make a change, CAFRA
training is conducted in four languages in the Caribbean: French, Spanish, Dutch
and English. Funding for the project was provided by the CAFRA Secretariat, the
Police Department, the Ministry of Women, Children and Civil Society, PAHO,
UNICEF and members of the community.