October 7, 2014 5:38 am By Tracey Khan – Drakes
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The One Billion Rising Movement continues to build momentum after its official introduction to Guyana through the Caribbean American Domestic Violence (CADVA) organization recently, which saw the founder of the movement, Eve Ensler, visiting Guyana.
Regional Coordinator, Dianne Madray held a meeting on Monday, October 06 at the seawalls that saw over 50 women from several regions throughout the country in attendance.
Madray explained that during her interaction with the women, she was shocked to hear their many painful stories of abuse that are still fresh.
She is also shocked that many women from the interior who were allegedly raped or sexually abused are unaware that those acts are criminal and punishable by law.
As such the OBR movement is now looking at hosting more awareness sessions to educate women on their rights and the laws that have been established to protect them and how they can be accessed.
Madray says she intends to continue various ‘speak out’ sessions; however, it will be done within the communities of those groups that are more at risk to domestic and other types of violence.
Another weak area that was pointed out during the meeting was adequate follow-up by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that would come into the communities to assist the women.
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They women called for more of this to be done since it is badly needed. They also urged for more counseling sessions to be done with victims of abuse.
Madray also highlighted the need for adequate health care services to be provided to Guyanese women especially those in the interior since most of the women have never received a full medical checkup because of their financial standings.
Inspiring students from the Caribbean Student Association proudly stood in the Nyumburu Multicultural Center to raise awareness about the growing domestic violence in St. Lucia, leaving everyone in attendance feeling both shocked and empowered.
The CSA hosted the event “His side, Her side…The Truth: A look into Domestic Violence” through the Caribbean American Domestic Violence Awareness organization, which was founded by Sukree Boodram, author of Break Out, and victim of domestic violence. The organization strives to empower victims and survivors, as well as build awareness, and educate the public on the hard truths of domestic violence that surrounds us.
The event stressed the terror of the effects of domestic violence, and how victims can find support in their time of need. The proceeds of the night went to the St. Lucia crisis center in order to combat the rising rate of domestic violence in St. Lucia.
The event started with the students bringing light to the definition of domestic abuse and the many types of abuse that exist. They stressed the fact that ANYONE can be a victim, regardless of age, sex, race, culture, and religion.
Along with the Women Empowered to Achieve the Impossible (WETATi), and the Sisterhood of Unity in Love (SOUL), the CSA presented guest speakers that focused on both female and male victims of this traumatizing abuse.
The Keynote speaker, Dianne Madray, has dedicated herself to empowering the youth, and promoting a positive change in communities for under-privileged children through facilities such as educational and recreational centers. Madray holds a Master’s Degree in Community Mental Health, and has worked extensively on the empowerment of women, through making healthy choices and good decisions.
Madray began her speech by telling everyone to close their eyes and listen to her soothing voice. “The people sitting next to you may have experienced abuse, or may currently be experiencing abuse” she said, “free the past, free your bodies, be healed, and be at peace.”
Madray went on to relay her own experience with abuse, stressing that by telling it, she hoped that she could help the audience to recognize the signs before it was too late. She emphasized “paying attention to the triggers” and going with your gut feeling in a relationship that may become abusive.
While many see the face of the abuser as a stranger, Madray said that in fact, abusers are often the ones that are closest to us, and the ones we fall victim to trusting even when we should not.
Many students were shocked by the brutality of Madray’s experience. Junior nutritional science major Meheret Asfaw said, “I didn’t think it was possible for abuse to go that far. We have to keep informing friends about what we learned here to better our lives in general.”
The next guest speaker Marsha Woodland, motivational speaker and founder of Building Bridges, also recounted her childhood of dark violence and sexual abuse. She remembered that violence was normal in her home, and that she developed a victim mentality from the environment and culture that surrounded her there.
Amber Ferguson, senior history major, said that the speakers made her realize that “domestic violence can happen to me, my friends, or anyone.” She shuddered and said, “the brutality of the stories was the most surprising; most people leave out such violent details when expressing an account of rape.”
In order to take the lessons learned at the event into our lives here at college park, Madray said that “as young people coming into college you are new at relationships, and understanding the diversity and different experiences in a relationship is new.” Through these experiences, and the help from the event, we have to recognize what makes a relationship unhealthy, and leave it.
We as students have to look out for each other in our community, and continue to raise awareness about domestic violence and abuse that can affect us all.Read More
Help & Shelter was founded in 1995 to work against all types of violence, especially domestic and sexual violence and child abuse. They have become a leader in the fight against violence in Guyana and in the provision of services to victims/survivors. Their work is widely recognised and in the 2011 national honours list they were awarded a Medal of Service.
On their website you can find information about Help & Shelter and the work we do, including counselling, public education and advocacy and shelter for abused women and their children.
The resources, including our manuals and public education materials, may be freely downloaded and distributed but we would be grateful if you would acknowledge Help & Shelter in any derived works. You can reach their emergency hotline at 227-3454 or 225-4731
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See this public service message with victims and their families speaking out.Read More