Columns

No more batteration

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, April 12, 2019

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Domestic violence is no joke. It cannot be taken lightly in any way. The murder-suicide which occurred earlier this week has shown that firearms, anger and jealousy are a fatal combination. The report of the killer shooting his estranged wife, even as his 12-year-old daughter pleaded with him “Don't, kill Mommy”, is beyond distressing.

News reports reveal a situation that went from bad to worse and then to worserer. Reports were made to the police about the deteriorating relationship. The husband's gun was reportedly taken away. We don't know if that gun had been returned or if another weapon was used in the fatal actions which happened Wednesday morning on Waltham Park Road in Kingston.

It has been revealed that the family of Roulene Clarke Gowans did what they could to get her out of danger after years of abuse. Her father had reported Patrick Gowans to the police. Counselling had been offered to the couple, but it is said that Gowans did not participate. The right steps were being made, but yet it came to an awful end. Could more have been done?

Meanwhile, the head of the Jamaica Federation of Corrections, Arlington Turner, has said there is not enough counselling support available in the system – neither for the inmates nor the correctional officers and other staff. He has said the incident is a wake-up call for the authorities to step up opportunities to provide emotional support to those who are working in stressful environments.

In November 2018 Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange announced in Parliament that the Government had acquired a property which would function as a national shelter to accommodate survivors of gender-based violence and their children. The centre will provide counselling and other forms of support to those in need. Checks to find out when the shelter will open were not answered. But it can't be soon enough.

The Women's Centre of Jamaica continues to provide help through their crisis shelter in Kingston. They have worked very hard over the years to maintain the services which they offer. There is, however, a need for more shelters to be made available throughout the island. When you talk with women who are in abusive relationships they often say they stay because they have nowhere to go. This is even more complicated when children are involved.

Domestic violence is one of the major causes of fatal disputes in our country. We seem to be incapable of walking away from an argument without bloodshed. “Turn the other cheek” are words we cannot seem to put into action. Our anger, frustration and jealousy spills out in searing acts of violence like a pot boiling over, scalding and burning everything around it. How can we find another way? We cannot continue on this path of self-destruction.

My heart goes out to the young child who had to witness that most gruesome act. I hope that she will be given all the help needed to cope. My thoughts go out to the family members who also have to deal with the footage being circulated on social media. Someone I know said the video was sent to them twice. Each time they deleted it.

I asked a friend of mine who works in guidance counselling, why do people feel the need to view and share this kind of graphic material? We aren't the only ones guilty of it. The Internet was flooded with footage of the horrible shooting at the mosque in New Zealand a few weeks ago. My learned friend said it may give the viewer a sense of feeling better about their own situation — “there but for the grace of God” and similar sentiments.

I had to wonder how they would feel if their loved one had been the victim or even the perpetrator. Would they want those terrifying last moments to become viral?

We must find a way to change. We have to find better ways to deal with each other. Let us build and strengthen, rather than destroy.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.

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