Gail Gonzales, the sister of murdered preschool principal Jezelle Philip, is challenging the narrative that domestic violence is a matter of love gone awry, and called for greater introspection from the public as they seek to address abusive relationships.
Gonzales made the remarks during her homily at Philip's funeral at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on Monday, when she said her sister was a victim of abuse, slammed her killer for his actions and called on other abuse victims to seek help.
Philip was stabbed to death just across the street from the cathedral where her funeral was held, a week ago, at her daycare centre and preschool.
"For our family, January 6 marked the official end of the Christmas season, but now it will be the day that Jezelle was snatched from us by a cruel, selfish and cowardly act.
"Jezelle was a victim of domestic violence. The odds are that you in the church may be sitting next to someone who is a victim or may know a victim of domestic abuse," Gonzales said. "Contrary to what you may be hearing in the media, domestic violence is not about love gone awry, it is about power, manipulation and control."
She said the public should take a less superficial approach to stopping domestic violence and while men are advised to walk away from heated arguments, they should also be taught better anger management techniques starting from childhood.
"In most cases the victim has already walked away (from the argument) but it is up to the abuser to give them the freedom to let them continue walking away. The question is why can't some men handle rejection?
"Tell your children that any man that can steal your finances can steal your very life. If he can sever your relationship with your family, then taking your life is nothing to him."
She also called on the public not to trivialise the issue of domestic violence with jokes, and implored people to support those in abusive relationships.
Fr Michael Cockburn, in his homily, called on the public to show compassion to each other and assist one another in times of crisis. Cockburn lamented what he described as an increasingly violent society and urged mourners to use Philip's life and memory to show love to one another.