Founder of the Services Alliance for Violent Encounters (SAVE), Liesl Daisley, speaking to the audience about her experiences with  domestic violence.

Government has a new non-profit organisation to help in the fight against domestic violence. It is the Services Alliance for Violent Encounters (SAVE), which was launched today at the Tom Adams Financial Centre.

It is founded by Liesel Daisley, a survivor of domestic violence, and has as its theme “End the Violence: Save our Society”. SAVE will work closely with the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports and the Bureau of Gender Affairs to increase awareness of domestic violence through community outreach programmes. It will also sensitise Barbadians about their rights under the Domestic Violence (Protection) Act; offer educational services; monitor the incidence of domestic violence in Barbados; and advocate for the local adoption of measures to combat the scourge.  

Acting Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington, deemed the launch of the Foundation as “timely and critical”. “I am disturbed because another one has died,” she lamented. Ms. Hackett-Codrington stated that despite the widely held belief that domestic violence is limited to intimate partners, it affects the whole family and society. “It is a public issue, not a private one. It has implications for the public health system, workplace productivity and is an abuse of human rights,” she said.

Ms. Daisley told those attending the launch that she had been married for a few months when her husband first hit her. “Even as the blood dripped, and the bruises began to swell, he started the apologies and at the time I believed him, but sometimes sorry is not enough.” She explained that over the months, as the frequency and ferocity of the attacks increased, her confidence in herself, in love and in society caused her to withdraw from social interaction.

“However, sorry as my husband was, he was never sorry enough to seek the necessary help to change. I was attacked with a fist, with a knife, with words and with silence. Sometimes the bruises you don’t see are just as damaging as the ones you do. For all the goodwill that is out there, there is much more that can be done. I know from my experience that we can make a difference and I believe that by working together we can help eliminate this scourge from Barbados.” 

Ms. Daisley said that first on the agenda of the Foundation was to establish the scale of the problem. “For sure, we need stiffer penalties for anyone, man or woman, convicted of domestic violence. But we also need support and education. We need to teach children how to deal with conflict.  We need modern shelter for those living in fear. We need people they can talk to and trust… places they can seek refuge… We need to help the perpetrators of the attacks. We need to deal with their anger and provide them with counselling… We need to do better,” she stated. 

Despite initial difficulties in gaining information, Ms. Hackett-Codrington said that the Bureau was working on a survey of local cases of domestic abuse. “The questionnaires have been completed and there are currently being tabulated. Hopefully, by the middle of April, there will be a basic idea of what the incidence rate is, and where.” 

The Acting Director revealed that the Bureau was also working in collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund for Women and was in the process of creating a protocol with the help of the police, the hospital and the Welfare Department to better understand the acts of domestic violence.  She also disclosed that the Bureau would soon be collaborating with these agencies and the Men’s Educational Support Association to create a batterers programme to teach perpetrators anger management skills.  

The launch was attended by members of the social service agencies, including the Barbados Family Planning Association, the Child Care Board and the United Nations Population Fund.

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