Jamaica's worrying stalkers - Ex-boyfriends going after the women who leave them and their new lovers
Scores of Jamaican women, who walk out of relationships for one reason or another, are being stalked and face physical violence from their former partners long after they have moved on.
While the number of cases reported to the police was not available, Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday that in many of the cases, the women escape from relationships in which they have been abused only to find that their former intimate partners are unwilling to let go.
"You have persons who have made their safety plans and managed to get out, but even when they get out, they are being stalked," said Grant.
"There is this attachment that has almost become permanent. It doesn't even matter if you find a new partner, they still stalk you, and it is not only the woman that is at risk.
"The new partner is also at risk, and when children are involved, they manipulate everything and everybody. Based on reports I have had to deal with, I have found that the threat becomes even worse once you have escaped, and it makes living dangerous for those persons," added Grant.
The senior cop argued that Jamaica's societal norms perpetuate certain types of violent behavioural patterns among men, and that problem is usually compounded by psychological complications.
"One of the things that we need to understand is how to socialise men. That is something we need to pay serious attention to, all this teasing and mouthing, and the putting down of our men, and deciding what is manly and what is not [cannot continue].
"There is this expectation that young boys and men are to live up to. With all of that underlying psychological problem, those things exacerbate feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. The thought of losing control is not something they can take. It is what the surroundings place on top of those psychological problems that make it even worse," argued Grant.
She accepted that law-enforcement and security personnel, because of the access they have to legal firearms, are a particular challenge, but pointed out that the dangerous stalkers can be found in all sectors of the Jamaican society.
"It is a man problem, so don't pick on law-enforcement officials specifically. There are a lot of firearm holders out there, Jamaica Defence Force people, security guards, and unfortunately, we have criminals out there with guns.
"What makes a male, a male in Jamaica? How do we define masculinity? I agree that by being in law enforcement, the ego thing is amplified, [but] they are not different from any other man," said Grant
"The reports span every demographic and has nothing to do with job titles. It has to do with the individual and how they are coping, plus the circle of people you surround yourself with and what they tell you," added Grant.
Some tips if you are being stalked
1. Avoid communicating with the stalker. A stalker's behaviour makes them feel they have power over you. If you provide them with any reaction, even telling them to leave you alone, they have successfully manipulated you into getting you to respond to them. Never respond or react to them.
2. Take all threats seriously. If the stalker has directly or indirectly threatened to harm you, believe them. Contact the police immediately.
3. Make changes to your technology. If your stalker had access to your phone or computer, get new ones. Get a new email address and phone number if possible.
4. Inform others of your situation. One of the most important things you can do is to let people know about the stalking. Sharing your concerns with people you trust will gain you a much-needed network of support.
5. Inform people in protective roles. Tell security guards at your school or work about your situation.
6. Stay alert when you are out in public. Don't bury your head in your phone, or listen to music with headphones on while out in public. Remember the saying, "There's safety in numbers," so ask friends or family to accompany you to places, if necessary.
7. Secure your home. Take measures to protect your home and keep yourself safe while in it. Inform trustworthy neighbours of your situation so they, too, can keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour.