In the instances where domestic violence victims are too afraid to report abuse, activists are calling on the Government to make law external party reports on domestic violence, which would give the police the right to intervene to save a life.
The call comes in the wake of the country’s fourth domestic violence-related killing for 2021, in which 53-year-old Karen Rauseo was allegedly beaten to death by a close male relative on Tuesday. Her death came after numerous reports to the police by family members about abuse they said Rauseo endured repeatedly. But it was also reported that Rauseo had never made any police reports nor applied for any protection order because she was too afraid.
In a recent Guardian Media report, some stakeholders in the fight against domestic violence said timely intervention was often delayed because of a lack of co-operation by victims to either report the abuse themselves or to give permission for it to be reported on their behalf.
However, International Women Resource Network’s (IWRN) president Adriana Sandrine Isaac-Rattan says given the gravity of the situation, legislation should be considered to change this.
“In the past, there was a call by the police and the authorities that if you are aware that something is going on in your community with a child, or a woman, or even a man, and that situation has the potential to become fatal, you report it,” Isaac-Rattan told Guardian Media.
“Even if Karen was fearful of reporting it, but the report was made by her sister or family members, it was not an excuse to not act,” she added, noting in the case of domestic violence, an incident is an incident and should not matter who reported it. She said it was time for the authorities to stop playing games with the lives of women and commit to working with activists and stakeholders in truly fighting the domestic violence demon.
“Domestic violence is not IWRN alone. We need the police … everybody, to come together. We know what the problems are. Why we have to wait … we are only losing our women,” she lamented.
She added, “If it is the country is now faced with a problem whereby a family member or another individual who is not in the abuse space cannot make the report, then we would suggest that the Parliament reconvene as soon as possible and let them pass some kind of legislation to allow for external parties to make the report.”
Also addressing the issue of victims of domestic violence not reporting the abuse, activist and chair of the fundraising and property committees at The Shelter: A Safe House for Battered Women and Children, Sherron Walker-Harford, related: “If someone has been a habitual receiver of domestic violence, their self-confidence has been taken to such a level, there were one or two things that happen—they will be terrified of doing anything or they will respond violently and kill their abuser, which were are going to see an increase in, especially with the lockdown.”
In the event where a report was made by a family member or neighbour of domestic violence occurring, Walker-Harford said, if the police respond to the call, they would be within their right to ask to see the supposed victim to ensure he or she was okay.
“To the best of my knowledge, you report that you are hearing me bawling and screaming coming from my home and you are afraid for my life. The police come and the person says to them ‘no she’s fine.’ And the police say we would like to see her and I don’t have visible bruises and don’t say anything, then the police may not be able to do anything. But if there are visible bruises, that may change the method that they are allowed to proceed with,” she illustrated.
She said anyone could make a report to the police if they have witnessed violence on any level of physical crime and could testify that the event happened. But in the event a report is made but denied by the supposed victim, she said there was very little the police could do.
Guardian Media contacted the National Domestic Violence Hotline to inquire how its service worked. We asked if anyone could make a report on behalf of a person being abused and was told yes but because they were civilians, the report is referred to the police. They said in the case of an active situation, persons making the report are encouraged to call the nearest police station or dial 999.
Where you can get help
Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Create Better Minds
Gender-Based Violence Unit of the TTPS
384-4722 230-2307 [email protected]
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape Crisis Hotline
Victim and Witness Support Unit
612-2577, 612-2465, 612-0301, 624-8853
Legal Aid and Advisory Authority
Legal Aid Clinic, Hugh Wooding Law School
Northern Division: Maloney Police Station
643- 6504 646-2947
Port-of-Spain Division: Besson Street Police Station
623-1395 625-8802 623-5173
North Eastern Division: Besson Street Police Station
623-1395 625-8802 623-5173
Eastern Division: Sangre Grande Police Station
Western Division: Maraval Police Station
Central Division: Chaguanas Police Station
Southern Division: Mon Repos Police Station
South Western Division: La Brea Police Station & Point Fortin Police Station
Tobago Division: Scarborough Police Station: