Domestic violence cannot be eradicated
Montego Bay doctors say perpetrators can instead be treated
Family therapist Dr Beverley Scott and medical practitioner Dr Delroy Fray, two of the foremost medical personalities in western Jamaica, are of the view that while the problematic characteristics of the perpetrators of domestic abuse are treatable, the toxic problem of domestic violence is not eradicable.
“Domestic violence cannot be eradicated, but it can be controlled if we focus on it some more,” said Scott, who believes that getting into the backgrounds of perpetrators by way of a social enquiry could help give medical experts a clearer understanding of how to treat them.
Scott, who is also the executive director at the Montego Bay-based Family and Parenting Centre, is also of the view that the illnesses that are impacting the perpetrators of domestic abuse are not easily detected by untrained persons.
“You will never know when you just meet them because they are usually very charming people. A lot of them are kind, very helpful and they will do anything and everything for their families,” Scott explained to The Gleaner in an interview.
“Their charm will attract any woman to them. These are persons who are looking to hold on to real love (because) many of them did not get real love when they were growing up, and so when they find somebody who loves them, they really want to squeeze every love out of that person, and they restrict the persons in their lives because they are afraid that they will leave them,” added Scott.
Interestingly, Scott said the perpetrators of abuse and domestic violence tend to see themselves more as victims than abusers.
“They always blame their partner for things. They will come in from work and see their partner looking sad and blames her for being sad, and if she is happy, she is blamed for being happy and is oftentimes accused of having an affair just because they are happy,” explained Scott.
Scott believes that persons who practise abuse and domestic violence suffer from an antisocial personality disorder as they would constantly remind their partner and victims of what they have done or is doing for them.
“These characteristics are treatable, but not with a slap on the wrist. It has to be by way of aversive therapy, meaning you have to lock him up in jail and allow him to think about what he has done, or by opening a case in court so that they can see the seriousness of what they have done,” said Scott.
“I have had cases where I had to tell my clients to stay in the relationship for a little longer in order to save their lives,” said Scott, in explaining the dynamics of the problem. “I have to tell them, you can’t leave yet when all of this thing is hyped up, your life is being threatened when he is at this stage, stay there a little bit more and let us work through how we can get to leave because if you leave like this, you may lose your life.”
Fray, the clinical coordinator at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, said while it’s very difficult to actually eradicate domestic violence in Jamaica, there is hope in reducing the practice by ensuring that the nation’s children are properly socialised.
“If we start now and catch the one to 10-year-olds, we can eradicate it in the next 10 years, when these children are 20 years old,” Fray told The Gleaner. However, despite that level of hope, like Scott, Fray thinks any thoughts of eradicating domestic violence are not practical.
“I don’t think so,” said Fray, when quizzed about whether or not domestic violence can be eradicated. “There are other components to it. Remember now, there are other aspects to it like financial and living conditions.”
The collective conscience of the nation was recently jolted when a video surfaces showing a man brutally beating a woman with his fists and then with a stool.