Not in My House
Its not often that we deal with controversial topics in Dominica outside of politics. There is often an embarrassment with talking openly about things that shouldn’t be happening in a laid back Caribbean island.
But like our front page on Domestic Violence, many people know someone or has heard of someone who has been abused sexually in their home.
The strange thing is that it is relatively commonplace in the so called first world to the point that it has become almost over sensitive. We in the Caribbean do not second guess our reactions to both our and other peoples children. In the US or UK there is often a nervousness of being too affectionate with children.
In Dominica it is often said that incest is a rural phenomenon. Again, like all ‘under the carpet’ problems, this is a myth. It happens in a wide range of households and starts with either an insecure or ignorant man and a woman who turns a blind eye to the point where even their children are afraid to confide in them.
Part of the problem of talking openly about it is the cast of so called respectable characters who could be implicated. However the silent cries of children in homes across the land cannot be ignored. Women usually are the guardians of the household and where they relegate their responsibility to keeping peace with the breadwinning male, or decide that they are picking the side of the family name rather than the side of a childs dignity, then we face the prospect of serious damage being done.
Another common scenario is where parents entrust the parenting of their children to a relative who turn out to be the invisible monster who is both helping the absentee parent and damaging their childs life at the same time. What a dilemma for a child to communicate !
But more critical is how do we find a solution for this. The most painful answer is communication. Painful because the prospect of being whistleblower on someone in small communities is both dangerous and also not exactly common. However, whenever we close the doors on small children, we are helping perpetuate serious crimes.
Ironically in a culture which seemingly has so many avenues for communication, people rarely talk openly with each other, and certainly children communicate less than ever to their parents or other family friends.
It is by keeping channels of communication open that we can rescue lives from being damaged before they can even bloom. And critical to our understanding of why we must intervene, it is the overwhelming statistic that the abused can easily become the abuser, in an adulthood which is racked with rage.
It is not enough to be a guardian of our home in that sense. We must become guardians of our society because slowly but surely, the problem that we reject as being someone 'elses’ will rebound to become ours. We are seeing it happening already across other social values.