Domestic violence

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Domestic violence occurs everywhere. In every country, thus also in Bonaire and other islands of the Kingdom. Domestic violence occurs within all layers of society.

There is a little bit of aggression in everybody but the way in which we deal with it can vary greatly. Nonetheless, it is something that could happen to any one of us. For instance, certain changes in one’s life could serve as a trigger for violence. In order to break the circle of violence, one must be able to recognise violence and violent situations, overcome shame, and speak openly about the subject.

Domestic violence is perpetrated by somebody from the victim’s domestic circle, such as a partner, ex-partner, family member, or family friend. Domestic violence does not always take place at home. Abuse by an ex-partner in the street or stalking, for instance, are also considered as domestic violence.

The term ‘domestic violence’ does not only refer to intimate partner violence, but also includes child abuse, elder abuse, and honour-related violence. Women are the largest group of victims. However, men, children, and elderly people are also victims of domestic violence.

Relationship between perpetrator and victim

The term ‘domestic violence’ refers to the relationship between the perpetrator and victim. In most cases, one person has more power than the other and the victim is dependent on the perpetrator. Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, and mental abuse.

Intimate partner abuse is not always easy to identify. The causes can vary greatly, as can the form and level of violence. Physical abuse is often easier to recognize than emotional or verbal abuse. 

What does the victim look like?

  • Looks tired and is often ill
  • Wears clothes that cover injuries
  • Suddenly changes appearance or clothing
  • Often seems to be restless or nervous
  • Has bruises or other injuries

How does the victim behave?

  • Defends the partner
  • Acts as if nothing is wrong
  • Clearly acts differently in the partner’s presence
  • Becomes (more) religious or suddenly adopts a different, strong opinion
  • She/he suddenly seems too lively or too quiet
  • Believes himself/herself to be worthless and says negative things about himself/herself or others
  • She/he is afraid, angry, confused, or depressed for no obvious reason

How does the victim interact with other people?

  • Suddenly has less contact with friends or family
  • Avoids questions about how things are going or gives unclear answers
  • Cancels appointments at the last moment
  • Looks away when you try to make eye contact
  • She/he is startled when touched

Which situations does the victim encounter?

  • It is difficult to speak with him or her in private
  • Has no explanation for injuries or broken items
  • Does not have any money of his/her own, has debts, or needs partner in financial matters
  • Visits the general practitioner more often and uses sleep-inducing drugs or painkillers
  • Uses narcotics regularly, such as alcohol or drugs
  • Does a lot of housekeeping or, conversely, does (or is only allowed to do) very little housekeeping

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