Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Vic­tims Not Alone

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Lex Ne­gus

T he killings of two women within one week in March 2017, both in cir­cum­stances which sug­gest the in­volve­ment of a spouse, has once again brought the is­sue of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence to the fore of the minds of cit­i­zens. It is im­por­tant at this point for all Saint Lu­cians, women in par­tic­u­lar, to know the av­enues avail­able for their pro­tec­tion. My mes­sage to all is that you need not be afraid to speak out, be­cause you are not alone.

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is a se­ri­ous is­sue is Saint Lu­cia. Dur­ing the pe­riod Jan­uary to De­cem­ber 2014, 353 cases were put be­fore the courts out of which 241 were heard and a fi­nal de­ci­sion was made. Dur­ing the same pe­riod in the year 2015, a to­tal of 592 ap­pli­ca­tions were made to the Fam­ily Court for Or­ders un­der the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Act. There seems to be an in­crease in the num­ber of in­ci­dents of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and, as such, it is im­por­tant for per­sons who suf­fer do­mes­tic vi­o­lence to have an idea of the mea­sures in place for their pro­tec­tion.

The Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Act de­fines do­mes­tic vi­o­lence as:

“… any act of vi­o­lence whether phys­i­cal or ver­bal abuse per­pe­trated by a mem­ber of a house­hold upon a mem­ber of the same house­hold which causes or is likely to cause phys­i­cal, men­tal or emo­tional in­jury or harm to the abused party or any other mem­ber of the house­hold;”

The Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Act aims to pro­tect peo­ple from abuse in a fam­ily set­ting. The Act is de­signed to pro­tect spouses, chil­dren and mem­bers of the house­hold from abuse from other mem­bers of the house­hold.

The term spouse in­cludes com­mon law spouses and for­mer com­mon law spouses and the term child also in­cludes adopted chil­dren and chil­dren who share a house­hold with the ap­pli­cants.

The Court is en­ti­tled to make three types of or­ders un­der the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Act. They are: 1) a Pro­tec­tion Or­der 2) an Occupation Or­der and 3) a Ten­ancy Or­der. Each or­der serves a dif­fer­ent pur­pose.

Pro­tec­tion Or­der: The Court will grant a Pro­tec­tion Or­der if it is sat­is­fied that the per­son against whom it is sought has used or threat­ened to use vi­o­lence or caused phys­i­cal men­tal or emo­tional in­jury to a spec­i­fied per­son and is likely to do it again.

A child can make an ap­pli­ca­tion for a Pro­tec­tion Or­der against a par­ent or other mem­ber of the house­hold.

A Pro­tec­tion Or­der can pro­hibit the per­son against whom it is made from en­ter­ing the house of a spec­i­fied per­son or the area where it is lo­cated, their place of work or school, a spec­i­fied place where the per­son hap­pens to be, stalk­ing, watch­ing, fol­low­ing, call­ing or even speak­ing to a spec­i­fied per­son in an man­ner which is of such na­ture and de­gree as to cause an­noy­ance.

If the per­son against whom the Pro­tec­tion Or­der is made breaches the or­der he could face a fine of up to $5,000 or spend up to six months in prison.

Occupation Or­der : The Court has the power to make an Occupation Or­der that a spec­i­fied per­son be ex­cluded from the house­hold to which the other re­lates. The or­der may also in­clude ar­range­ments for fi­nan­cial sup­port for a mem­ber or mem­bers of the house­hold.

The Court will only grant this or­der if it is sat­is­fied that it is nec­es­sary for the pro­tec­tion of a spec­i­fied per­son or in the best in­ter­est of a child of the house­hold.

Ten­ancy Or­der: The Court may or­der that a per­son be made a ten­ant of a spec­i­fied prop­erty. The ef­fect of the or­der is that the ap­pli­cant be­comes the ten­ant of the premises and gains the rights af­forded to the Re­spon­dent. In the­ory the per­son who re­ceives the or­der can at­tain exclusive pos­ses­sion of the prop­erty.

Any­one seek­ing help can go the Fam­ily Court at 1 High Street, Cas­tries, call the Min­istry of Jus­tice on (758) 452 5475 or go to the near­est po­lice sta­tion to make a re­port.

If you are be­ing abused by some­one who is not your spouse and does not live in your house­hold, then al­though you may not fall into the cat­e­gory of per­sons en­ti­tled to ap­ply to the Courts un­der the do­mes­tic vi­o­lence act, any per­son may make a re­port to the po­lice sta­tion for as­sault, threats, ha­rass­ment and a num­ber of other of­fences. It is the duty of po­lice of­fi­cers to in­ves­ti­gate the is­sue. Please don’t wait!

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