Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
The best way for a community to help victims of rape and abuse is to provide love and support, counselling psychiatrist Joyce Chambers has advised.
"Rape and abuse is a very traumatic experience and the victims need to feel that they are not alone and that they were not responsible for the attack or the abuse," Chambers told The Gleaner yesterday.
"It is imperative that people around them provide as much love, care and support as possible."
However, she noted, anything beyond that could create more harm than good.
"Sometimes persons without the training and requisite skill try to help and make the situation and the traumatic experience worse, so it is best the physical and mental well-being of the victim be left to a professional," she told The Gleaner.
"Children, especially, will have to be taught coping skills to deal with the trauma they encountered."
At least three communities were thrown into shock this week following separate harrowing events.
Anger overtook the residents of Zion, near Falmouth, in Trelawny after two missing boys were found dead. The residents descended on the home of the person they accused of killing the boys, burning it to the ground, killing one relative and injuring another.
In Carlton Mountain in Claremont, St Ann, the accusation that an 11-year-old was impregnated by her 63-year-old grand uncle evoked anger and disbelief.
Over in Irwin Point, St James, the brutal rape of an eight-year-old girl and four female members of her family was overwhelming for that community.
NEED TO DEVELOP COPING MECHANISMS
The psychologist said residents will go through mixed emotions, but it is imperative that they leave the critical aspect of the ordeal to professionals.
The victims, she said, should get proper treatment and care in order to develop the necessary coping mechanisms to continue their lives.
Clinical psychologist Dr Karen Richards noted that it was imperative that a re-education and reculturalisation be done across communities to reduce the stigma associated with rape, which will help in lessening the trauma for the victim.
Richards also stressed that residents must allow the law to take its course.
In looking at how to recognise signs of a child being abused, Chambers said community members can be observant and, if they notice something unusual with the child, they can speak to someone they trust or speak to the child to find out what is going on.
Both psychologists outlined signs to look for, Chambers noting that "this is their way of coping, so they hit out in the only way they know how".
Richards, however, warned that all children are different and will, therefore, not exhibit the same signs.
"It is important to note that they may have one or two of these signs but it doesn't necessarily mean they are being abused, so it is important to look at it in totality and not in part," she added.
Warning signs in a child to pay close attention to: