Social prescriptions for relational termination

Dear Editor,
It is with a profound sense of sadness that I seek to elucidate and contextualise the distressing pattern of intimate partner violence that is emerging as a permanent ill within the family domain in Guyana. Editor, impressionist evidence on reported cases in the daily newspapers seems to suggest that many women who are in violent romantic relationships are being killed by their partners, as they seek to depart and permanently separate themselves from the relationships. The situation further degenerates as the perpetrator thereafter commits suicide or, in some instances, inflicts injuries and unleashes harm on other family or household members.
This murder-suicide dichotomy appears to be much more pronounced among couples who are in cohabitating relationships and are experiencing relative social and economic deprivation. Nevertheless, while acts of violence and intimidation are ongoing features of violent romantic relationships, the timing of the departure, Editor, must be viewed as an absolute life-and-death issue for the abused woman. The unplanned departure amplifies and intensifies the acts of violence that are directed towards the woman, and most likely leads to further abuse and sometimes death.
Editor, one might infer that it is relatively safer for the abused woman to remain in the relationship and continue to experience acts of violence. This is further from the truth; but rather, it is the ill-timed act of departure that generates a potential bloody situation. The unplanned departure of women from abusive relationships is a threat not only to their personal safety and security, but also to other members of the household.
The abused women must first and foremost consciously decide that they are leaving and meticulously formulate a safety plan that is imbued with safety contingencies. It should include, but be not limited to plans to be self-sufficient, adequate protection and the most apposite time for leaving.
Moreover, the abused women must seek to enlist the support of members of the Police Service, trained counsellors, spiritual leaders, advocates and other physically able members of their family before the actual separation takes place.
It is also necessary, Editor, for abused women to cease threatening their partners with their intention to terminate the relationship and leave when the abuser least anticipates. Additionally, they should cease and desist from sharing such information with individuals who may put their lives at further risk. I call upon Help and Shelter and all other likeminded NGOs to construct guidelines governing relational termination for abused women and also to embark on a national sensitisation campaign to educate the affected population on departure techniques.

Kelston O Cort