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Girls blinded by ‘love’

organisation seeks to help young women trapped in violent relationships

by Leigh-ann Worrell

Girls as young as 14 years old are falling victim to abusive partner relationships, the chair of a domestic violence organisation has said.

“From counselling them, it seems they are looking for love and attention, and that is because a lot of them grew up in households without a father or if the father was there he was not there emotionally,” Chairman of Service Alliance for Violent Encounters Foundation, Liesel Daisley, told the media this morning after receiving a donation from the RBC Royal Bank (Barbados) Limited at its Lower Broad Street office.

“Therefore, I find the younger generation are easily convinced to enter these type of relationships where they are being controlled. Initially, they see these controlling acts as cute [and proof that] ‘he is in love with me’ and ‘he is into me’. [The man] may check up on them constantly, and they don’t see it as a sign of someone who may potentially be controlling and abusive…”

Daisley added the girls may have been warned about the man and “tell off” the family members, choosing the side with their partner.

“When they eventually move out to live with this man and they are beaten and controlled, they can’t go back home, because they told off everyone at home. So, they find themselves stuck in a situation that they have no control over.”

In order to stem the trend, Daisley stated that SAVE Foundation had carried out a programme with girls who had just left secondary school. The initiative focused on self-esteem, etiquette and stressing the importance of independence, as these girls may have also seen their mother depend on a male benefactor for support.

“We find a lot of young girls are becoming pregnant early and depend on those men for financial support and if that relationship does not work out, they need to get into another relationship to get income and they become pregnant for that man, and then that relationship does not work out and this goes on and on,” she continued.

Daisley also noted an increase in calls to the Foundation’s hotline, around five to seven per day, with most of the victims within the last year reporting the “incidence and severity” of violence was directly linked to a depressed economic situation. She explained that the pressure of a lighter cheque, due to shorter work hours or other financial difficulties could bring conflict which can eventually turn to violence.

SAVE Foundation was also suffering from diminishing resources. The chairman revealed that some of its sources of funding were cutting back recently, which hampered outreach initiatives.

“There are lots of programmes we would love to do but people are cutting back … these days. When that happens, you find more social problems coming into the society and it ends up costing governments more when they could just invest in social areas and alleviate a lot of problems in the long run. It is a vicious cycle.”

Daisley thanked the bank for the sponsorship and recognising the importance of assisting victims of domestic violence. She said the money would be used for the organisation’s counselling service.

The bank donated an undisclosed sum to the three-year-old non-governmental organisation as part of its diversity and inclusion initiative. Head of Finance, Colleen Cyrus, noted that “as we approach International Women’s Day and we celebrate the efforts of ordinary women, we at RBC are extremely pleased that we can make a contribution to NGOs that focusses on the rights of women…”

She also added that the bank was committed to supporting the development of programmes and services geared towards women.

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