(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 6 October 2012)
If I had a wish for Domestic Violence Month, it would be that every female victim of this beastly crime would garner enough courage and foresight to testify against her offender. Sadly, that is not the case and many offenders walk away with a smirk on their face ready to abuse again.
There are many reasons victims of domestic violence do not testify against their abusers. Some women are financially dependent upon the man and it is difficult for these women to see a way to support themselves and their children without the man and they often choose to continue with the abusive relationship so there is food on the table and a roof overhead.
Some women do not testify against the offender because they truly believe the offender can and will change. There is a sincere love for the man and they disbelieve that a man they love could be so cruel, that is until the next violent episode. He will beg for forgiveness, bring flowers or gifts and tell her how much he loves her. Everything is just fine, until it isn’t and she is once again bruised, bleeding or dead.
Other women do not testify because of terror. These women have no pretty delusions that everything will be fine, they know firsthand just how deadly the offender can be. They have seen it firsthand. They have felt it on their body and seen it in the abuser’s eye. This victim also knows that if they testify and the offender still goes free (as happens frequently), she will pay a hefty price for her testimony and perhaps the ultimate price.
It is for these reasons and many more that victims of domestic violence do not testify against the offender. Sadly, the end result is more abuse and sometimes death. There simply has to be a better way to pursue the domestic violence offenders.