The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

TMID Editorial: Domestic Violence - Getting rid of the stigma

Associated Press Tuesday, 5 November 2019, 09:42 Last update: about 2 months ago

In 2018, Agenzija Appogg saw 665 cases of domestic violence, an increase of 158 cases from 2017; the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) said in its 2018 Annual Report.

According to the report, the increase in domestic violence referrals may be a result of the launch of the Gender Based Violence and Domestic Violence Law, and the awareness that was raised on the media, which means that more victims of domestic violence were reached with the information about FSWS and Agenzija Appogg support services and were empowered to seek services.

While the rise in this statistic could indeed be due to awareness being raised about the issue in the media, this increase must also be treated as an increase, and more must be done to try and minimise the number of domestic violence cases on the island.

 Domestic abuse is not always physical. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as painful as a physical hit. Sometimes in the flare of the moment, some partners take things too far, shaming their other half, or causing them emotional distress.

To combat this, more awareness on these issues are needed, and perhaps more emotional education at a younger age could be beneficial.

While the majority of domestic abuse victims are female, one must also not forget that men can also be the victims of domestic abuse. When it comes to male abuse victims, it becomes far harder to estimate the true number, as in society it is seen as more shameful for a man to be a victim of such abuse.

Well it isn’t more shameful, and those who are facing such abuse should seek help immediately. The stigma surrounding this situation does a lot of harm, and needs to be eradicated.

Of course domestic violence does not only affect the victim directly, but if there are children in the household could also leave an emotional scar on them that might never heal. Indeed some children might grow up believing that it is ok to treat their partner like that, which in turn will result in a vicious, endless cycle of abuse.

While having laws and procedures in place to protect the victims are of course of the utmost importance, it is also imperative that personnel dealing with these cases, and those who are more commonly the first point of contact – like the police – receive extensive training in dealing with such reports, to firstly decipher the signs of domestic abuse, and secondly to ensure that the right course of action is taken.

There are rare cases where, for example, one party would claim abuse where there is none, purely due to legal reasons, which result in the other party being unable to see their children for years. Indeed the professionals dealing with such reports have a duty to discover the truth, and formulate the best action in order to ensure the protection of those who are victims.

When it comes to the children who have witnessed or have been the victims of abuse, the State must ensure their protection and emotional wellbeing.

 

 

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