Speaking at the launch of the TT Central Registry on Domestic Violence at the Gender and Child Affairs Division, OPM, Tower D in Port-of-Spain, Webster-Roy said survivors of domestic violence, particularly men, are still reluctant to make a report based on self-blame, fear of reprisal and re-victimisation, and mistrust of authorities.
The central registry will collect and integrate information relating to a victim and or perpetrator of a domestic violence. It will facilitate coordination between agencies which interact and provide services to survivors and offenders.
Information will be treated with confidentiality. The registry will also complement the Children’s Registry for the tracking of and provision of services to citizenry, Webster-Roy said.
The importance of central registry, she said, will inform policies to make interventions. However, she noted, “There are a number of men and women in our society who have not built up the courage to report. So as it stands today our data is not accurate.” The reality, she said, is that any available data from the police, legal fraternity, or health sector or other sources will represent only a small proportion of the actual number of incidence of domestic violence.
She noted that the National Domestic Violence hotline 800-SAVE reported more than 6,000 reports between October 2010 and September 2015, and the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch of the TTPS reported more than 9,800 reports between 2010 and 2014. The police reports, she noted, reflected multiple offences perpetrated against the same victims.
Noting that many men were victims and survivors of domestic violence who desperately need intervention, Webster-Roy said, “We need to ensure that their voices are heard and rehabilitative action taken.” Men hurt just as much as women, she said, “and if we are to have a balanced society, we need to serve our men just as equally as we serve our women,” she said.
The negative stereotyping of men as aggressors and women as victims, she said, has worked to obscure men suffering from society’s view.
Men who consider reporting violent assaults against them, she said, most times, expect to face disbelief, ridicule and counter allegations.
The under-reporting of abuse and the silence by abused males, she said, renders the true picture of domestic violence incomplete.
In TT, she noted that reports of abuse to the TTPS for 2010 to 2104 in relation to male victims of domestic abuse was 26 percent. Male reports to the Domestic Violence Hotline accounted for 16 percent from October 2010 to September 2014.
Webster-Roy noted that the United States Centre for Disease Control’s 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey which showed that five percent of men and 5.9 percent of women reported experiencing rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to taking the survey.