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More domestic violence victims having court cases dropped

A section of the main island of Tortola. (Photo by Davion Smith/BVI News)

More and more victims of domestic violence are choosing not to pursue a case against their abusive partners when it is brought before a local court.

In the past two weeks, the Magistrate’s Court has dismissed at least five matters relating to domestic violence due to an unwillingness by a complainant (victim) to cooperate.

In those instances, they tell the court: “I am no longer interested … I want the matter dropped.”

“It is a normal thing in domestic violence cases,” said Family Support Network (FSN) Director Sasha Stoutt whom BVI News invited for a comment.

“Sometimes they have been in the courts for a very long time and the reality is they may want to leave and they are going into the unknown and they get scared … and they go back [to the abusive relationship],” she said.

Stoutt said her organisation has grown to understand and empathise with these abuse victims.

“It is a cycle and it is part of the cycle for domestic violence. And, we continue to support them, and let them know that regardless of what their choices are, we will still support them.”

Stoutt said when victims are at that level, ‘some are isolated and they have no one to reach out to.’

Do not blame them

The FSN director further said these persons should not be blamed for their actions.

“A lot of people on the outside looking in may not understand, but certain things are not that simple or easy when you are being controlled … It’s not easy.”

Meanwhile, a social worker at the Social Development Department, Ginny Jacobs, said she is directly involved in helping victims with protection orders and getting medical reports in the event there is an assault.

“We have had persons that we will sit with them all day … and they will retract and say they don’t want to follow with it anymore,” she remarked.

She said many domestic matters are not reported and those that reach the court are the ‘extreme’ cases.

Statistics

Jacobs said there are have been five reported domestic violence related matters for this year.

She said there were four reported cases last year and 21 in 2016.

Jacobs said she believes the significant decrease in reported cases hinges on the fact that many people are still displaced by the hurricanes.

She said victims ‘try to cope’ with any abuse they are subjected to while living in under someone else’s roof. She said they, as a result, are not keen to report any matters of abuse as they would under normal circumstances.

She said statistics have shown that physical abuse is among the most prevalent in the British Virgin Islands.

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5 Comments

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  1. Peaches says:

    hmm…I hope we don’t have to hear about any deaths. Once a man hit you, he will never stop! The Government should build a Safe House for these victims until they can do better for themselves.

    If you have to leave the island to get out of your abusive relationship, do so, but GET OUT!!! YOUR LIFE IS AT STAKE!

    11
  2. Reply says:

    Not an uncommon occurrence in domestic abuse cases. Indeed, the law should anticipate this, and proceed with these cases even if the alleged victims do not wish to proceed so long as it can be proven based on prior statements or other evidence that a person was abused.

    Otherwise, these same victims will will be back again,if they don’t end of dead before, and the laws against domestic abuse will be of no use.

    To ensure their corporation, all alleged victims of domestic abuse needs the necessary emotional support (Family Support Network (FSN)) and a safe place to go if need be.

  3. Thinking says:

    The cost of living here too high and wages low for
    The honest earners. Women, especially with children will usually go back to abusing relationships because they do not have a way to support themselves and survive independently from their partners. Parents : teach your daughters how to be independent, teach them about the world out there and how to beware of abusive relationships… teach them to love themselves

  4. Address the real matter says:

    The way the court system in the BVI works unfortunately those responsible for handing down decisions to protect the victims from their abusers are more sympathetic to the abusers than the victims. Then you see the abusers move from victim to victim, constantly escaping the law. Why then should we have faith in a process where in a vulnerable and broken state we expose our wounds and return with scars?

    To the powers that be, you either get real about Domestic Violence in the BVI or move on to another Topic. Some may say “Piss or get off the toilet”.

    Don’t debate me, I’ve been through the system both High and Magistrate. Both the abuser was the victor. And it took courage I didn’t know I had to face my truth, stand in it and go public…

    This report moved me because, women don’t willing drop cases against their abusers, your enabity to protect us from the abusers, the embarrassment and psychological scars you cause us, and the return to the same situation of abuse (not having the strength to leave it) causes us to withdraw and conceded.

    The abusers know this and uses it to their benefit and in turn we reconsider our positions. Facts remain…

    We do our part, the police do theirs and the courts drop the ball. Again don’t debate me. For every action there was a cause.

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