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With the recent events in our country, resulting in the death of a woman, I feel compelled to give my contribution with this blog. I should point out, that although I will consciously attempt to keep my writings objective, I find it hard to shake off the feeling of appal when I face violence. With this blog, I join my colleagues at SOAR, Men against Violence, the Domestic Violence Commission, Victims Support Malta, Agenzija Appogg and all other groups with a mandate to help victims of domestic violence in this cry to end this mindless abuse.

With the recent horrible murder in the recent days, I have decided to revisit some literature on domestic violence. As my work generally takes me in the field of children, most of my reading generally neglected this area. What I found remains astounding to me as it did many years ago. The statistics around domestic violence are tremendously worrisome. Some sources cite one in every three or four women being victims of some form of abuse, which is not necessarily restricted to the physical kind of abuse. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention twenty people are victims of Intimate Partner Violent every minute.

Intimate partner violence is a crime that largely affects women, as statistics suggest that 85% of all victims are women. In this abusive relationship, one of the partners tilts the balance of power through the use of violence. The violence is specifically perpetrated in order to systematically dis-empower the victim, obviously to retain absolute control in this relationship. Couple quarrelling is different, even when the couple become so agitated that they resort to aggression. In a DV context, the power is completely given to the dominant partner leaving the victim helpless, humiliated and terrorized. And this an important point to reflect upon, especially if you are one of those who simply cannot understand why the person does not simply pack up and leave, or find the hardest piece of manageable furniture and smash it on the partner’s head.

Morality here is not the matter. Retaliation is often simply not possible because the victim cannot fathom any sense of power within them to fight back or run. Therefore they find themselves unable to take decisive action in their life. And we must not forget – the threat to the lives of victims is real. Women are up to 70 times more likely to be murdered in the few weeks after leaving their husband. And should any reader be of the opinion that those statistics are not valid in Malta, I can reiterate from experience that although murder rates are luckily not as high, other forms of taunting are. In my experience in the field I have seen intense stalking, mental abuse, parent alienation, financial forms of abuse, and battering/humiliation in public which are too excruciatingly common in our country. Those can simply remain more private and do not seem to attract the same kind of publicity through the media.

Violence must stop. For any perpetrator reading this blog please take note that nothing gives you the right to hurt and victimize your partner. Any victim should know that help is available and the professionals in this field are truly dedicated to the cause of helping you out of this situation. As I conclude I, together with my colleagues at Willingness, would like to congratulate all those who in some way have contributed to helping better the situation in our country. This applaud does not only go to the professional services mentioned earlier, but also extends to the members of the police force and of the medical community who play a very important part in this process to stop domestic abuse.

 

– Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness.  He offers parent coaching and social work sessions.  He can be contacted on steve@willingness.com.mt