There are so many organisations geared towards eliminating domestic violence towards women. Just over a year ago, The Office of the Prime Minister (Trinidad & Tobago) launched its first information caravan on the International Dayfor theEliminationof Violence against Women.
While these NGO’s dogreat work geared towards assisting women and children who have suffered and survived some form of abuse, are there enough programs being implemented for giving men the help that they so desperately need? Is there enough being done to make the public aware as to where one can go if assistance is needed? Is the information being made readily available?
We hear so much about the rights of women, but what about the rights of men? Don’t they have any? Where can men go to talk about their feelings? Who can they turn to?
In today’s society we act as if men have no feelings and have little or no regard for it. Why is this? It’s sad to admit that we were rarelytaught that men’s feelings areimportant or that they even mattered at all.
Why is it ok to assume that men cannot possibly need or benefit from group therapy? Why is it that we do not teach our young boys to care and be sensitive towards each other and not just to girls? To assume that because you are a man you are exempted from feeling pain is beyond ridiculous. How absurd is that? Aren’t they also human beings with emotions just like any other?
From early childhood the feelings of little girls are given preference over those of boys. Boysare taught how important it is to treat little girls, while not enough thought is given as to how they should treat their comrades. They are taught that they should be sensitive to females and their feelings but don’t they also have feelings, and shouldn’t they also be sensitive to the feelings of everyone?
So in essence it would appear that their feelings don’t matter and are left to fend for themselves. Imagine how frustrating it must be to live in a society where you are expected to be strong all the time? A societythat looks down on you if you show any sign of weakness. How hard must it be as a person to have to stifle all your problems, keep them bottled inside and walk around with this macho façade that everything is OKwhen deep down inside it’s not. Isn’t it cruel to subject someone to that kind of life?
Our men are being fed false information from the wrong sources. They are being led by examples set by the wrong individuals. They are being told that crying is for weaklings, it’s wrong to be scared, women are meant to be controlled in a relationship and the only way to do that is to inflict pain. They are being taught that it’s OKto get physical once in a while because women need to be kept in line. They are being told that by being violent towards their spouseproves that they wear the pants in the relationship and that’s the only way to be a man.
When is society going to accept the fact that we are partially to blame for the way our men are today? We have so many broken men walking around, so many of them frustrated and depressed, ashamed to ask for help for fear of looking weak or indifferent. We see it happening all the time; there are men in abusive situations and if they go to report a violent incident they are ridiculed and laughed at. How embarrassing that must be. Imagine the emotional damage that is being done to these individuals. To think that you are made to appear wrong or weak for reporting a crime committed against you. Women are not the only ones who are allowed to be vulnerable and or victims! They are not the only one who needs a safe haven, a safe place to seek nonjudgmental support. Women are not the only ones who can benefit from group support. We already live in a world that confuses what it means to be masculine. It’s high time we as a society start to take responsibility for this. Teach our children that all humans are equal and that respecting each other is important. Teach them that it’s OKto communicate feelings or to even show emotions.
Even though there are gender-appropriate ways to deal with given situations, do not exempt men from feeling emotional pain, physical limitations or deny them full access to various rights, opportunities and resources that should be normally availableto all. Women needs to stop denying fathers access to their children, especially when they are fighting to be apart of their lives. Children are not pawns in a game. Stop being petty and vindictive, when situations like these occureveryone gets hurt, including the child.Ifthe relationship does not work out be an adult about it and find ways to co-parent respectfully. If you are refusing him his right to be there you cannot call him a "deadbeat" but rather he will be a victim of your selfishness.
By allowing this cycle to continue we keep losing our sisters daily. 2016 ended on a terrible note for the women ofTrinidad and Tobago with the murder of Shannon Banfeild whose body was found in the middle of our capital Port of Spain. 2017 started off even worse when news rung out about the murder of a 16 year old North Eastern college student across the country. RachelRamkissoon missed the school bus because she woke up late after a night of studying. She got dressed for school opted to travel but never made it. Her body was found in some bushes hours after still in her uniform with several injuries about her face, chest and legs. While we were still in shock and disbelief and still recovering from the loss of this young innocent life we were struck with grief, confusion, anger frustration and fright yet again.
Twenty-six-year-old Nadia Simms was found buried in a shallow grave after days of being reported missing. She left home to meet a man who promised her employment at the Water and sewerage company only to never return. By this time women all over were paralyzed. Posts on social media going viral about not feeling safe. Suggestions were even made to go Live on Facebook when commuting alone. Cries were made for women to be allowed licensed fire arms to protect themselves. Then a couple of days ago, another one of our sisters were taken from us.
Jamilia Derevenax was murdered in the parking lot of her work establishment. She got a call by someone she knew who she then met outside. They proceeded to the car park where he then slit her throat and fled the scene. How much more lives are we going to lose at the hands of these out of control and emotionally unstable maniacs? When arewe going to take responsibility for the monsters that we have raised? Fathers for too long you have left women to do the job of raising your children by herself. For far too long you have been teaching and misguiding our young boys on all the wrong ways to treat a woman. They don’t just wake up and decide to be violent or abusive. Domestic violenceislearned behavior(through observation, experience, reinforcement, culture, family, and community) and is not caused by substance abuse, genetics, stress, anger, illness, or problems in the relationship. We taughtmen how to hurt us and it’s about high time we teach them how not to. Trinidad has become a lawless society where no one is being held accountable for their actions. Our men have nothing to fear, there are no circumstances for their actions. Our childrenhave no respect for authority, so who and whatdo we expect them to become when they get older? When arewe going to step in and say enough is enough? While youths make up 20% of our population, they are 100% our future. When are we going to start to nurture them so that they can be upright law abiding citizens? It has to start somewhere. Angered by the escalating crime rate, especially domestic-related murders in the last month, our Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley called on women to choose their male companions more wisely. While some may disagree with his remarks others are of the belief that as women some level of accountability is to be held when it comes to our safety. Look for the warnings signs, don't ignore the red flags and be cautious of those who we let inside our hearts.
Men need help just as much as women do. Let us start by listening more and allowing them to share their thoughts and share their voices not only because they play a key role in society but for the sole reason that they are human beings and the safety, happiness and lives of our women depend on it!
“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~ Frederick Douglass