Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Bissoon to re-energise ‘No Violence in Love’ campaign - Recent spousal killings spark new push

Published:Friday | January 17, 2020 | 12:00 AM
From left: ZJ Liquid, Denyque, Iceman, Bruce Lawrence (audio engineer), Debbie Bissoon, Yendi Phillipps, Donovan Watkis and son Marquis Jordan Watkis in a 2017 promotional photo for the ‘No Violence in Love’ campaign.
Debbie Bissoon

When media personality Debbie Bissoon started the No Violence in Love campaign back in February 2017, she hoped there wouldn’t be the need to push promotions for the initiative again so soon. But, with the monster that is gender-based violence rearing its ugly head again, Bissoon has begun to push the campaign’s core message once more.

“We were very happy with the messaging and the success of the project when we first did it, and in some ways it’s heartbreaking that it’s still relevant. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to get back here,” she told The Gleaner. “But, now that we are here, I want persons to see the people that they watch every day, the persons they look up to, send the message of no violence in love. If society can hear from the public figures that they love; the words of love and how to love, I hope they can really get the message.”

Bissoon says after hearing news of the two women killed by their spouses earlier this week, she is convinced that now more than ever, the message needs to spread like wildfire. “This campaign and this message is even more relevant now. It is heart-wrenching as a female to hear about these killings. To see the potential of these ladies wasted, and even the gentlemen that took their lives as well, it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We want people to share this message. We want to be able to help change people’s mindsets because that is what needs altering more than anything else. We hear the reports every day, we see the numbers and we have to acknowledge that there needs to be a revamping of thought, of consciousness. We need to take a look at how we see love and how we deal with each other.”

Suppressed feelings

With that said, Bissoon expressed that she is particularly distraught that men have been forced to believe that they should stifle their emotions. The mother of one (a son) says that kind of socialisation is one of the main reasons some men ‘snap’. She expressed that rather than finding healthy ways to deal with hurt and shame, men are forced to ‘bottle things up’.

“We’re not taking into consideration men and how they manage emotions, and that has to be given some serious attention. We don’t have enough male-centred initiatives because we think men are supposed to be tough and dem fi deal wid dem thing,” she said. “But di man dem hurting too, and dem don’t have an outlet because we’re not sending the message that it’s OK for a man to hurt and talk about it. So what they do is bottle it up and deal wid it anyhow. It’s OK to tell men that it’s all right that they’re not 100 per cent strong, and that the latter doesn’t make them any less of a man.”

Bissoon, having realised that the need for an intervention has once again arisen, says she will be looking to bring the No Violence In Love campaign to schools again. She says she has not finalised plans on how the intervention will happen, she just knows focusing on the youth is the best place to start. “We are basically trying to use this campaign to offer definitions of love. We have certain things that have been handed down through society about love that needs to be examined. We have to change the mindset with the young ones coming up, and that’s why we will be going into the schools,” she said.