GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The world is currently facing a health pandemic resulting from the vicious spread and effects of the coronavirus COVID-19. Many Countries have restricted the movement of persons between external and internal borders.
Sint Maarten is no exception in an effort to prevent, mitigate and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic authorities took some hard decisions to put the country in a partial lockdown.
Closing schools, non-essential businesses, companies with the capacity for their employees to work remote has resorted in doing so, socio-cultural activities cancelled or postponed, churches closed, places of entertainment closed, and the list can go on. All in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
People are asked to refrain from our cultural norms of togetherness and greetings by way of and Social Distancing. This period of isolation and social distance may become the playground for abusers to exert enormous amount of power and control over survivors and victims who may find themselves trapped in the same environment with the abuser.
Though many may embrace and welcome the opportunity to be at home to spend time doing things they could not do on a regular but for the survivor or victim of abuse it may be their worst nightmare.
They may be forced to stay in the confines of their home with an abusive parent, spouse/partner or caretaker. Type of abuse and victims may differ, in that, it may be a case of a parent or a family member abusing a child; a caregiver an elderly or disabled person, a partner to partner etc. Abuse may also take a different form – it can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or even spiritual.
What many may not be aware of, persons being away from home, be it at their place of work, school, elderly daycare activity center and the like gives the victim an escape.
It offers the opportunity; for others to pick-up and recognize that something is definitely wrong; interact with others, get help or even build their resolve to return to their abusive home environment until they can find a way out. With the isolation and social distancing this is not possible.
Research shows that during a crisis or disaster violence increases. Some countries who have been grappling with the onslaught of this virus have reported a sharp increase in intimate partner violence cases since the lockdown.
It is important as a community that we are aware of this startling reality and keep our eyes, ears and heart open. Though we have to continue to practice social distancing and that we must do so to safeguard ourselves and the community, we can still do our part.
We need to report cases of abuse and mistreatment. In essence, if you see something you say something. You feel that something may be wrong say something.
There are emergency numbers you can contact anonymously: Children - (Court of Guardianship 918 or 520-1473 24-hours seven days a week); Families – (Women’s Desk 520-6291 between 8.00AM – 5.00PM); Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence – (Police 911, Women’s Desk 520-6291 between 8.00AM – 5.00PM; Safe Haven 9333 or 526-8663 24-hours seven days a week).