- For nearly five years, June Moon* stayed in an abusive relationship where she was repeatedly threatened, beaten and insulted by the man she thought she loved.
- Things came to a head when, one day, while at their child’s school, he slapped her so hard in the face that she blacked out.
- Ms. Moon says after she left the relationship, she was able to receive counselling through the Bureau of Gender Affairs within the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
For nearly five years, June Moon* stayed in an abusive relationship where she was repeatedly threatened, beaten and insulted by the man she thought she loved.
She wanted to leave, and even reported the abuse to the police, but stayed in the relationship out of fear, the fact that they had children together and she was dependent on him financially.
Things came to a head when, one day, while at their child’s school, he slapped her so hard in the face that she blacked out.
Ms. Moon tells JIS News that the public beating made her even more determined to leave the relationship, as she could no longer allow her children to grow up in that situation. “I made up my mind to leave,” she says.
Ms. Moon, who spent four and a half years with her partner in an East Kingston community, says the relationship started out lovingly, but eventually descended into abuse when her partner became extremely jealous and insecure.
She notes that it was difficult for her to establish platonic relationships with other men because she was constantly watched by her partner and his friends. Job hunting was also an issue.
“He would tell me that he didn’t want me to look for any job because men would be working there and they are going to look me and I’m going to give them my number,” she recalls.
She was also prevented from attending social functions and gatherings, such as church, and to participate in the Police Youth Club.
“He would bar me from that (church) telling me that if I go to church, I must sit at the back, and if they start to call people up, I am to come out, because next thing the pastor tells me I have to get baptised and then gets me married,” she says.
She was only allowed to go on the road during her menstrual cycle and once that was finished she would have to remain at home.
Ms. Moon says not only was she ill-treated by her partner but his mother as well, after he got into trouble with the law for his abusiveness.
Asked why she remained in the relationship for so long, she notes that it was out of fear.
“If I wanted to leave the relationship, I could not. He threatened to kill me and himself and burn the house down,” she tells JIS News.
She says the man was eventually arrested and the matter is before the courts. She is now living elsewhere with her two children.
Ms. Moon says after she left the relationship, she was able to receive counselling through the Bureau of Gender Affairs within the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
The Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA) formerly the Bureau of Women’s Affairs is the State agency and national machinery responsible for empowering men and women.
The BGA ensures victims of domestic violence are counselled and that the rights of girls and women are protected through the legislative agenda. They also host community sessions where issues affecting both genders are examined.
In addition to the BGA, victims of domestic violence in Jamaica can also receive support through the Victim Services Division (VSD) in the Justice Ministry.
Director of the Division, Rev. Osbourne Bailey, says the division provides counselling, emotional support, court support and various programmes of therapeutic intervention. The division has an office in every parish.
“It (VSD) will provide the support from the day you become a victim of crime. It will follow you through the process; if you have to go to court, it will prepare you for court,” Rev. Bailey notes.
The VSD reports that the main categories of offences for which clients sought their services include rape and behavioural problems, murder and domestic violence.
Victims can also receive assistance through the non-governmental organisation Woman Inc, which operates a crisis shelter.
Ground was broken on January 30 for the renovation and expansion of the shelter in Kingston to house additional women and children who are victims of violence.
The five-month project is being undertaken by the Government through more than $14 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Among the amenities to be provided are bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, housemother’s room, consulting room for counselling services, recreation and dining room, gazebo and garden area, and reading room/quiet area. The building will be disabled-friendly.
Speaking with JIS News at the ground-breaking ceremony, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Government is committed to addressing violence against women and children.
“A lot of our women (and children) are having an extremely difficult time because of violence against them (and) they are in need of shelter. It is a matter that is really urgent, and Government is treating it with the kind of urgency and importance that it should have,” she said.
She told JIS News that the Government is looking to establish three shelters to provide safety and counselling for women and girls who are victims of violence.
“We are committed to establishing three State-run shelters across the island, one in every county. We will have to seek partners to make this a reality, but it will be initiated by the Government,” she noted.
Ms. Grange added that discussions are under way with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (Housing) to identify a property in Kingston to accommodate an additional women’s shelter.
Meanwhile, Ms. Moon’s advice for other women facing the same ordeal is to develop the courage to leave and to seek help.
“Look into yourself… do not live in the shadow of the abuser. Get up and leave that relationship,” she says.
*name changed to protect identity