WOMEN need to look out for red flags from early in relationships, but more importantly, older women need to mentor and guide girls and young women.
This was one of the consensus coming out of the Love Should not Hurt, Her Story, Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence and Abuse, a Zoom conference hosted by pastor Denielle Placide and survivor, Camika Mc Letchie.
Placide is a women empowerment coach and founder of the Priceless Foundation for Women. She is also a minister with Open Bible Standard Churches TT Inc and a member of The Fellowship of Extraordinary Women (USA).
Mc Letchie, who is the protagonist of the internationally-accredited film, Breaking the Cycle, has been an advocate against domestic violence since she got out of an abusive marriage eight years ago. She is also the founder of a non-governmental organisation, Woman Rediscover Your Strength (WRYS).
The mother of seven, opened the conference by listing both the seven forms of abuse and potential warning signs that could deem a significant other an abuser.
One such warning sign, love bombing, was addressed by Mc Letchie who said if expensive gifts or big commitments were being made very early in the relationship, that could be a red flag. However, one participant queried whether this could not just be a sign that the suitor is either very romantic or committed?
While Mc Letchie agreed it could be romance or genuine love, she advised if the woman finds herself being coerced or forced into decisions, such as moving in together or having a baby, then those are signs that the man has control issues.
If women are not watchful for the warning signs, what started off as romance, she said, could turn very quickly into a pattern of incessant, obsessive calls, isolation from friends and family, verbal abuse, disrespect in public and eventually physical abuse.
In an interview after the conference, host pastor Placide said the goal is for women and girls "to be able to fully embrace a life of dignity, responsibility, and spirituality, without fear."
She said, "There is a need for social change. As such, The Priceless Foundation For Women seeks to help girls and women break personal limitations of vulnerability, uncertainty, and failures to achieve increased capacity for resilience."
Placide said it was with these ideals and goals in mind that the conference was put together and hosted.
Over 40 women who participated in the event came from various sectors and included teachers, banking professionals, life coaches, stay-at-home mothers, security personnel and the judiciary.
The discussion became intense at times, when Mc Letchie and another survivor spoke of their ordeal. Both women had seven children and had endured all seven forms of abuse at the hands of their former spouses of 20-plus years.
Mc Letchie called on parents and guardians to "keep the lines of communication always open" with their children. She advised parents to listen to youths, especially young women and teens."
Mc Letchie revealed she had to recondition her sons' minds: "Abusive behaviour and violence is a learned behaviour. I had to re-culture them, with simple things as to how they treated their sisters, how they would feel if someone treated me or their sisters badly? "It made them start to think and recognise that what they had known was not normal. My children know my mantra is respond, do not react. It means you took time to think when you respond and not just react in anger, haste or ignorance."
The other survivor called for a greater system or circle of protection around victims, the enforcement of the electronic bracelet alerts and mandatory counselling for abusers to try to stop the continuation of the cycle of abuse.
Placide said the foundation intends to target teens and young women next. The foundation firmly believes that when females are empowered, they are better equipped to respect and love their men, build stronger support systems, and create positive environments at home, she said.
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