Pay attention to treating childhood trauma and development, say experts
The audience follows keenly during a domestic disputes resolution panel discussion at the Mandeville Baptist Church last Wednesday. (Photo: Gregory Bennett)

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Security, medical and mental health professionals are concerned that trauma and domestic abuse experienced by children, if not addressed early, could spiral into violent behaviour and have deadly outcomes.

The experts, who say the society is already facing an uphill battle in addressing basic discipline, engaged in a robust domestic disputes resolution panel discussion at the Mandeville Baptist Church last Wednesday, where they examined the causes and cures of domestic violence in Manchester.

Marriage and family therapist Dr Sheriffa Colquhoun said adults who experienced trauma including abuse as children are more inclined to become perpetrators of domestic violence.

“When you are hurt as a child it is more than likely that you will repeat the cycle, if not interrupted,” she said.

“A child lives what they learn, so they will take that into adulthood unless there is some sort of intervention. I see a lot of trauma. Our society, our world is filled with trauma and we have normalised trauma like it is day to day,” she added.

Colquhoun said she has seen an increase in cases of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among people.

“More and more I am seeing more PTSD that are undiagnosed. People who are walking around with broken hearts and they are just hurting and of course, especially since the [novel coronavirus] pandemic, I have seen a tremendous increase in the anxiety cases,” she said.

She added that children are being affected by various types of trauma which are sometimes kept under the quiet.

“We have a lot of incest in our society that is trauma; we don’t talk about that,” she said.

She said she has observed mood swings, flashbacks, nightmares and depression among people affected by trauma.

Retired police inspector and Ministry of Justice mediator officer Louis Brown pointed out that socialisation has affected the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic violence.

“How they were socialised, for example, boys should not cry. Boys must not do certain domestic chores, if a boy or man cries, that means that boy or man is weak,” he said.

“Woman should not do ‘manly things’, so it is how parents and guardians and caregivers, how you socialise and [raise] your children, that can affect them down the road,” he added.

He reiterated the point that there needs to be a father figure in children’s lives.

“A boy who was not fathered. There was no father in the home. Therefore, he grows up almost wild and he marries your daughter, your granddaughter, because he grows up wild, it is likely that he can [become] an abuser,” said Brown.

“He seeks power and control. The poor victim is unemployed, so therefore, she depends on the perpetrator for everything financially, so the offender can withhold whatever financial benefits towards that person,” added Brown.

Public health specialist Dr Michael Coombs pointed to research which he said showed that cases of domestic violence are much lesser among married couples.

“When you look at the research it is the extent to which we move away from God’s design for the family — marriage. It is to that extent that we see all the problems, including domestic violence,” he said.

He said the Church must promote the institution of marriage as God intended.

“It is when we follow God’s design for marriage and we have parenting involved in — both mothers and father — and they (children) have good role models about how a man should love a woman and vice versa you will automatically based on this research result in a reduced long term incidents of violence,” said Coombs.

“Boys who grow up in certain settings they continue the cycle of what they have observed,” he added.

He said the support of all sectors including public health is vital to the awareness and tackling of domestic violence.

“… We must have centres, we must have all the support groups for those who are experiencing this terrible scourge,” he said.

“It is good to have the short term solutions to help the victims, but if we do not as communities as the broader society look at the root causes and what could really result in a transformational change, we are going to just be meeting back here … repeatedly talking about domestic violence,” he added.

He said violence is a learnt behaviour based on research and that good parenting is critical to guide children, especially boys as to how to treat girls.

“If a young man does not see how to treat or not treat a woman, when he doesn’t see opportunity to witness that from the home setting, in the formative years, you are up against a battle,” said Coombs.

“There is no other way that he will learn apart from social media and the culture of collective peer pressure,” he added.

Public health specialist Dr Michael Coombs (Photo: Gregory Bennett)
Retired police inspector and Ministry of Justice mediator officer Louis Brown (Photo: Gregory Bennett)
Marriage and family therapist Dr Sheriffa Colquhoun (Photo: Gregory Bennett)
Kasey Williams

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