There are more than 400 women and children in this country who are in urgent need of help to get away from domestic violent situations, managing director of the Victim in the Dark organisation Jineil Hospedales has said.
Victim in the Dark is a charitable organisation which helps women and children affected by domestic violence. It has been in existence since 2014.
“Since the pandemic cases of rape, incest and domestic violence have sky-rocketed and these victims have contacted our organisation for help,” Hospedales said.
According to statistics from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in February last year, there were 39 reports of domestic violence.
This year that figure almost doubled with 73 domestic violence reports being made in February.
In March last year, there were 42 reports of domestic violence recorded.
This year the figure was 96.
During a press conference in April, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith stated that there was a reported rise in domestic violence cases from 232 in 2019 to 558 in 2020.
Victim in the Dark has been hearing the cries for help.
“We have a list of 410 battered women and children in Trinidad and Tobago who reached out to our organisation for help. These victims wake up every day thinking it’s their last day,” Hosepedales said.
“They have no family support and nowhere safe to go but desperately want to leave, however, they are afraid to be hunted down and killed like the others,” she said.
For the year 45 women and two girls have been murdered so far.
Some at the hands of people they lived with and loved.
Hospedales said her phone is filled with videos of men beating their spouses and of photographs of the injuries sustained.
“These women contact our organisation almost every day for a place to stay, some of whom left but are running from place to place for their lives with severe injuries,” Hospedales said.
“We advocate that once women are aware that they can escape an abusive relationship because there is a system in place that would prevent them from returning to their abuser, a system they have immediate access to, then they would be able to make better decisions for themselves,” Hospedales said.
As such Hospedales said Victim in the Dark is hoping to build a shelter to help them.
However, they need financial assistance to do so.
“Please help us rescue these women by helping us build an ‘ark’ (shelter) so that they would have a safe place to go so that they can make a better life for themselves as well as their children,” Hospedales said.
Land was donated to the organisation by The Chrome Auto Spa but they still need funding to purchase building material to construct the shelter
Letters have been written to President Paula-Mae Weekes, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy highlighting the situation.
Hospedales said Weekes intended to have a fund-raiser to assist the organisation but the COVID-19 pandemic stopped those plans.
The organisation is still awaiting a response from Rowley and Webster-Roy.
Hospedales said Victim in the Dark intends to provide holistic assistance.
“We would focus on those from extremely low income and high-risk areas, once admitted to the program they would have access to food, clothing, counselling, basic self-defence classes, medical attention, legal advice, security, education and job placement opportunities. Children who are affected by domestic violence would have access to a tutor,” she said.