Support available to victims

If you are a victim of domestic violence or any other form of abuse from people you are close with or with whom you ended a relationship, then you do not need to suffer alone and in silence.

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services is urging victims to get in touch with any of several partnering agencies whose officials are trained to offer support such as counselling and advice.

The ministry's call came in a media release on Friday, in which it asked, if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there is assistance available. Partner agencies are staffed by trained professionals guided by the ethical principles of the social work profession.

People in need of help can contact the National Family Services Division by calling: 623-2608 ext 6701 to 6707 or visit various offices to receive free counselling and support.

Some of the agencies that provide similar types of psychosocial support are ChildLine, 800-4321 and the Children’s Authority (CA) at 800-2014 or 996-2014.

The authority’s 24 hour hotline is for the receipt of reports of child abuse. In addition to other services, the CA investigates those reports to validate whether a child is in imminent danger and is in need of care and protection.

Another entity is Families in Action at 628-6333. Families in Action facilitates in person counselling, a 24-hour Hotline Counselling, facilitating parenting, youth, and domestic violence education; addictions screening and group support; group support for female survivors of domestic violence; manages the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-7283 (SAVE) and this hotline is available 24 hours.

The Rape Crisis Society whose counsellors can be reached at the north office: 627- 7273 from 8 am to 4 pm and 6 pm to 6 am; south office, 657-5355 from 8.15 am to 4.15 pm and 6 pm to 6 am.

The society provides counselling and support for victims of domestic violence and rape, offers individual and group counselling, provides walk-in services and educates public about sexual violence issues through outreach programmes.

The TT Innovative Parenting Support group can also be reached at 664-1520, Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm. This group provides parenting courses, affordable counselling services, parent empowerment groups, training workshops for parents.

Yet another support group is Lifeline which can be reached at 645-2800, and which provides 24-hour listening service, STOP (Student Outreach Programme) towards improved literacy for YTC; schools outreach to students at high risk of being victims and/or perpetrators of violence and crime, the Kevin Fund - Lifeline’s newest project - which supports persons who have been in YTC, and Ppartners for Peace - a group of organisations coming together to advocate for the prevention of violence in communities.

The issue of domestic violence and partner-involved abuse has returned to the national limelight recently with the murders of three women in separate incidents.

In one case, Polly-Ann Chuniesingh along with her brother and their uncle were found strangled in their home in Pinto Road, Arima. While police have classified this triple murder as a robbery-homicide, Polly-Ann's relatives confirmed she was a victim of domestic violence where, as recently as December, a former lover had laced her drink with poison. A man has been charged for this triple murder.

In another incident, Gabriella Du Barry, who had fled an abusive relationship and had applied for a restraining order from the courts, was shot to death at her parent's home in Avocat Village, Fyzabad. A man has been charged with this murder.

And in yet another case, Jezelle Philip was fatally stabbed in a Port of Spain pre-school which she owned and operated, while she was teaching a class of children. A man has since been charged for her murder and has appeared in court.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has since announced that on January 21, he will roll out a gen­der-based vi­o­lence unit of the police service to be manned by police officers specially trained to handle reports of domestic violence and similar acts of abuse and criminality.


"Support available to victims"

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