Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Editors' Forum | Trapped by fear

Published:Tuesday | November 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Joyce Hewett, acting executive director of Woman Inc.
Sijia Chen, volunteer at Cuso International.
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Fear and dependency are still believed to be the major reasons Jamaican women remain in abusive relationships.

Joyce Hewett, acting executive director of the female support group Womam Inc, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum late last week that studies have shown that in 90 per cent of cases, women who leave toxic relationships go back for many reasons, while others stay because they are simply scared.

"We know from experience, and from the work of the crisis centre, there are two times when a woman is most at risk for serious harm or death. One is when she is pregnant and the other one is when she tries to leave (an abusive relationship)," said Hewett.

"The bottom line is that you need to break that chain of power and control. Many times, what you don't see is that it's not only a financial dependency, but there's an emotional dependency, and usually that has developed overtime."

She added, "The woman who is the victim and is attempting to move towards the survivor mode is conflicted, because she operates in a state of confusion. Anytime she's physically attacked or verbally attacked, she's usually met with the response of an apology or remorse. And when you talk to any of the women, that's what she is working for, that the situation doesn't happen again."

Sijia Chen, volunteer at Cuso International, which provides support for women's organisations, told the forum that what should be added to the discourse of gender-based violence is the need to respect survivors of abuse.

"One of the things we want to emphasise is that women who experience gender-based violence are survivors, they are not victims. So we need to respect them as agents of change and as people who can make choices," said Chen, as she joined others to look at gender-based violence in commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Sunday.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com