Intervening in incidents of domestic violence

By William Walker
Stabroek News
September 18, 2000

There has been increased reportage of incidents of domestic violence. In some cases, victims have been maimed and killed. This week "What the people say.." asked persons walking on Regent Street whether they would intervene were they to witness an act of domestic violence, be it spousal or child abuse. Many also gave their opinions on the disciplining of children:

Patricia Liverpool - housewife: `Oh! I don't approve of domestic abuse one bit. It happened to me some 24 years ago and that is why I am living alone to this day. I remember as a young girl our neighbour was beating his young wife and my mother rushed over and grabbed the girl, screaming: 'Leave my child alone!' Of course, it was not her daughter but she just felt so strongly for another human being's suffering. And look at me: I ended up in the same situation. It is sad. I would call the police. It is not good to part a fight... sometimes you might end up being dead.'

Juliet Ann - housewife: `Well I would speak to both parties and try and get them to listen. But you know ...some people don't listen; they don't know much, they don't learn. If that were the case then I would call the police. The same thing with children. I would speak to the parents and tell them to speak to the child. Beating don't bring good. You need to speak to the children. No, I have never called the police.'

Trudy Thomas - `My mother felt the best way to have an impact was to use a whip to communicate; to get the message across. Other than that if I see my neighbour with a 'bung' [swollen] eye or arm in a sling, I would go to her and say 'What is happening? You don't have to take this.' There are other avenues nowadays. I would tell her there are organisations such as Help and Shelter. But it's not good to get in between neighbours' story, because they would make up and you become the enemy and you have to be afraid of getting beaten up too.' Trudy Thomas

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Roseanne Archer - housewife: `In the case of little children the Bible says don't spare the rod and spoil the child. Take for instance my little son. If he is playing with matches to light the stove, I would tell him first and if he keeps it up I would apply instructive discipline. I might feel a little remorse but I have to be stern. As for neighbours, you have to be cautious or they will take it out on you. The woman would have all that anger in her so you have to catch her at a time when you can reason with her; perhaps tell her about Help and Shelter.'

Leslie McGibbon - former teacher: `It is best to stay out of people's business. It's the safer way out. I prefer to stay out. If someone was seriously injured one might feel a pang of conscience, but I still believe in staying out of other people's arguments. Even if children are being beaten it is best to stay afar. It's safer as an individual.'

Michael Pinkerton - driver: `Yes, a neighbour should help. Look, you have to try and counsel the abused person to seek legal or other help such as professional counsellors. But if that has no effect in the long run, you have to stay away if the approaches are not accepted. As a Christian I would pray for that person. As for children getting excessive beatings you have to analyse why it is happening. Often it is because of strained marital situations. The parent's anger is spilling out and they are taking their frustrations out on the children. All that physical and verbal abuse comes right back on the parents as the grown children can't wait to start cussing you back.'

Charles Schroeder - assistant purchasing clerk: `It pays to leave people alone and mind your own business. It's not like when I was growing up and children listened to older persons. Nowadays you try and correct and they start abusing you and taking advantage. My mother said if 'ears hard you have to ring it or bite it'-like Mike Tyson! I live in an area where everyone cussing down from morning to midnight. Calling the police is a waste of time. I was married twice and never hit my wife nor my daughter. You just talk to them and if they don't listen, leave them alone. Eventually they have to come home. But nowadays everyone has this tendency for hitting. My daughter is not spoilt because I did not hit her, not at all.'

Tharick Byal - pharmacy assistant: `The right thing to do is to call the police. Getting involved can be dangerous. If you know the people you can speak to them. You know each story has two sides. As for parents beating, the children get to hate their parents. I remember getting constant beatings and I grew to hate my parents. Eventually I rebelled and told them enough was enough. I have forgiven them now but I would not do the same to my own children.'

Sheila Fortune - medical student: `You should stop them! You might save someone's life. You cannot sit by and let it go on. I have seen domestic disputes but have not intervened as other people were helping. As for children, you must always talk to them; sit them down one on one. Not all this hollering and Pax! Pax! Although I would have been spoilt without a little discipline, I just reasoned with my mother and said I am too old for this and she stopped.' Steve St Hill - self-employed: `I don't think you should help. In my opinion the third party ends up suffering. You could talk to the woman and point her towards some help. I have never had cause to get involved in anything like that. I am from the old school you know. Children need a little touch or pinch just to send them in the right direction.'

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