‘Paper does not ensure safety’

A restraining order or order of protection is simply a document that requires a person to do, or to refrain from doing, certain acts.
The piece of paper does not ensure a person’s safety. It is up to that person to have a plan of action and to know what should be done when that protection order is breached. This is according to the Rape Crisis Centre and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The Centre was responding to the death of Mayaro mother of two, Orpha Hackett, who was stabbed and chopped to death hours after getting a protection order against a man on Monday.
Amanda Ackbarali-Ramdial, a counsellor at the Rape Crisis Society, said women seek to have protective orders when the abuse becomes so severe that they are afraid for their lives.
She said women need to have a plan. “You need to be looking for a place to stay that is safe and unknown to the perpetrator. A place that is different, where he cannot find you,” she said.
Ackbarali-Ramdial said women need to become aware of the agencies available. She advised that women granted protection orders should discuss the situation with relatives. “The relatives need to be made aware of what is happening. They should be able to assist the woman by ensuring that the man is not allowed to enter the compound at anytime,” she said.
Siobhan Burroughs, a clinical psychologist at the c entre, said there were many agencies throughout Trinidad and Tobago to assist women in abusive relationships.
“As I am aware there are more agencies available than before which are quite effective. I am not sure if the public is well informed about safe houses and how they work. There are women who are concerned about going to safe houses because they are not sure if their children can be with them,” she said.
Burroughs said these centres provided a therapeutic and relaxing environment for women to “clear their heads” and help them think forward.
Ackbarali-Ramdial said women need to be educated on the red flags in a relationship because “an abusive relationship does not start overnight”.
“Things like when a man raises his voice, or becomes angry or controlling behaviour. All of these are signs,” she said.
Ackbharali-Ramdial said communities need to work together to protect citizens against domestic violence.
“We need to move away from saying that it is their private business. We need to get back to taking care of each other before it gets to this point,” she said.
Burroughs said the Rape Crisis Centre and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence also provide assistance to perpetrators who admit that they are abusers.
—Carolyn Kissoon
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