DISCLAIMER The booklet is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. The reader should consult with relevant experts for such advice. Instead, this booklet is intended to offer guidance on how to seek justice in response to incidents of gender-based violence. Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
Copyright ÂŠ 2020 Stephanie Leitch All rights reserved. For more information, contact the publisher at email@example.com First paperback edition December 2020 Edited by Ă&#x2030;lysse Marcellin Graphic design and layout by Celine Jaggernauth and Richard Taylor
Self Published by WOMANTRA 1 Robinson Ville Belmont Trinidad, WI
Acknowledgements This Survivor’s Handbook, Journey to Justice is a joint project of WOMANTRA and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, through the CARICOM-PANCAP/CVC/COIN Multi-Country Caribbean Regional Global Fund Project.
We would also like to thank the UN and the EU through the Spotlight Initiative for their support in the printing and distribution of this handbook to our local health facilities.
This publication also would not have been possible without the help of Donielle Jones, Attorney-at-Law, who has been supporting the organization for the past year—laying the groundwork for the opening of WOMANTRA’s Legal Aid Clinic for survivors of gender-based violence. Thank You!
Dedication WOMANTRA dedicates this booklet to the living memory of Leah Gordon. She was a fierce defender of women and the powerful tradition of jamettry. We remember you!
â&#x20AC;&#x153; Women are not Propertyâ&#x20AC;?
TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION
GETTING ORIENTED: NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY • •
6 What is Gender based Violence? Figure 1: Gender based Violence: An Umbrella Term 7
STARTING YOUR JOURNEY • • • • • • • •
Warning Signs Table 1.0 Emotional, Psychological and Financial Abuse Table 1.1 Physical Abuse Table 1.2 Sexual Abuse Table 1.3 Child Abuse Figure 2: Duluth Model of Power and Control Figure 2.1: Duluth Model of Equality Next Steps
8 10 12 13 14 15 15 16
MAPPING SERVICES • • • • •
Hotlines Special Divisions Covid 19 Measures Online Reporting Figure 3: TTPS Mobile Application
17 18 20 20 21
SHIFTING GEARS INTO ACTION • • •
What to do when seeking police assistance What to do when seeking medical assistance How do i get involved?
22 26 29 31
INTRODUCTION Journey to Justice: A Survivor’s Handbook is for any person who has been victimized
or experienced violence because of their gender.
As a woman-led organization that offers support to women survivors, we know there is a difficult road ahead in seeking justice. Justice looks different for everyone and we understand that no matter who you are, you deserve to live a life of dignity and free from violence. At this juncture, which is likely full of questions, we hope that this guide can answer some of these questions and take you one step closer to the support and healing you are seeking for yourself or a loved one. Advisory Note: If you are a victim of gender based violence, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with all the sections of this handbook, so if you are ever in danger, you can find the information you need easily and quickly.
GETTING ORIENTED: NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY WHAT IS GENDER BASED VIOLENCE? The term gender based violence is sometimes used interchangeably with domestic violence but, even though these terms are similar in meaning, they can be used to express different situations of violence. This can be confusing and understandably so. But put simply, domestic violence refers to any violence that occurs between members of the same household or between intimate partners. Gender based violence, on the other hand, refers specifically to a person’s vulnerability to violence because of their gender. In other words, how do our ideas about gender—manhood and womanhood—give one person power over another? With the way society is made up, men can easily exercise power over women because of the authority they possess as a man in a relationship or household (e.g. as the “head of the household”). Parents have similar power over their children, making children one of the categories of people most vulnerable to both domestic and gender based violence, along with women and LGBTI+ persons.
Gender based violence is also considered an umbrella term, since there are so many behaviours that can describe how people are victimized in specific ways because of who they are. To help ground you on your path, we have shared some key terms below that are associated with gender based violence, just in case you aren’t familiar. For some people, it can be empowering to learn new words that help them to describe what they are observing, experiencing, or trying to understand. Figure 1: Gender based violence: An umbrella term
Sexually explicit images or videos of a person posted online without that person’s consent, typically shared by a former sexual partner as a form of revenge or humiliation.
Bullying or harassing others on the internet, particularly on social media sites. It can include posting rumours, threats, sexual remarks, a victims’ personal information, or hate speech.
Assuming that someone is at fault or blaming them for being the victim of a negative event, minimising the role of the perpetrator or other factors that caused the event.
The killing of women and girls by men, which is motivated by hate, contempt, pleasure or beliefs about men’s dominance and ownership of women.
A form of psychological manipulation where a person sows seeds of doubt in a relationship, causing the other person to question their memory, perception, or judgment using various tactics of denial, contradiction, and misinformation, to belittle or minimise their emotions.
STARTING YOUR JOURNEY Often in relationships, we may experience various levels of (dis)stress but aren’t quite sure what the source of our discomfort is or even what we’re feeling. In many cases, this sense of contention or uncertainty does not mean that anything is terribly wrong in your relationship. But since we aren’t typically taught about what healthy relationships look like, it is also possible that the red flags we should be seeing clearly become hazy, especially when love and other strong positive emotions are in the foreground, clouding our judgement and ability to see the road ahead. So no matter where you are on your journey, it is always good to seek information that can help you process your feelings or help you to determine whether further intervention is needed to ensure your physical, emotional and mental well-being.
! WARNING SIGNS The first step in evaluating the status of your relationship, is to start reflecting on and identIfying any harmful patterns that may exist in your dynamic, what they look like, and what impact they can potentially have on your health and well-being and that of your family. According to a 2017 nation-wide study , 1 in 3 women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. While this reality is extremely disheartening, it also affirms that you are not alone in your experiences and is a reminder that there is nothing shameful about needing support. According to our Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2020, ‘domestic violence’ broadly refers to acts of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial abuse committed by a person against their spouse, intimate partner (e.g. through a common law or dating relationship), child/dependent, or any other person who is a member of the same household. Since the law is very specific in describing what types of offences constitute domestic violence, we compiled a comprehensive list of these for you in the tables on the following page. If you are not sure whether or not your experiences have been characteristic of abusive relationships, you can use the checklists on the following pages to help you get a clearer picture. You can also use it as an important evidence gathering tool if you are trying to document known patterns of abuse. Making detailed notes of any offences against you (like the who, what, and when of each situation you recall) can also help you to build a strong case against your perpetrator. While completing the checklist, consider whether your responses might mean that you or someone you know may need therapeutic, legal, or other support. Some of these resources will be shared in the following section.
These tables can be reviewed and filled out by anyone who has been a witness, perpetrator, and/or victim of violence. This exercise is meant to guide you as you reflect on your experiences, as well as your own actions. It is important to know that people who experience abuse may also display abusive traits or engage in abusive behaviour. This is often a survival and coping mechanism and does not represent your full story. By being honest about the dynamics of your own situation, it gets easier to figure out what kind of help you really need and want.
TRIGGER WARNING: During this process, you may feel uncomfortable or distressed. If you live with diagnosed anxiety or depression, you may be more likely to experience distress. It is important that you pay attention to what’s going on with your mind, body, and spirit. If you notice any signs of distress while completing this exercise, please take a moment of self care to take a break or stop. Some signs of distress may include: • racing or “thumping” heart • sweaty palms • nausea/diarrhoea • tightness in throat • chest pain/difficulty breathing • headache • low mood
• • • • • • •
irritability thoughts of self harm “out of body” feeling poor concentration/racing thoughts worry sadness anger
If you experience any one or combination of the above signs and feel that you may need further support, please consult the Mental Health Services Directory listed on the Ministry of Health’s website to find the mental health clinic nearest to you. If you believe that you may be at risk of self harm, please call 800-5588 (Lifeline) for immediate support or the emergency number (811) if you are in need of urgent medical help.
Emotional or psychological abuse refers to a pattern of behaviour that results in the wors-
ening emotional or mental well-being of another person.
Financial abuse refers to a pattern of behaviour, where one person exercises control over,
exploits or limits another person’s access to financial resources, including their own. This often results in an unequal power dynamic in relationships, whereby one person is forced to become financially dependent on their abuser. The following table outlines features of emotional, psychological and financial abuse.
TIP: Use different coloured pens or markers to tick/mark responses where you have been on the receiving end of these behaviours versus when you have displayed these behaviours yourself. Table 1.0 YES Using abusive language or threats Abusive language can take many forms. Some examples include: ● Comments or insults that ridicule looks, style of dress, sexual worth, intelligence, parenting abilities, housekeeping, etc. ● Expectations of compliance with demands ● Humiliation in front of friends/coworkers/ family members
Making unwelcome or intimidatory contact in-person, electronically, or via any other means This provision applies to: you, your child, spouse, current partner, relative, any other person you share a close relationship with
Sharing private images or videos of an intimate partner or child(ren)
Leaving offensive material for a partner or member of the household to find Some examples could include: ● Pornography ● Evidence of extra-marital or other hurtful close/intimate relationships ● Receipts from a purchase not meant for your household
Limiting access to family or friends This is also referred to as social isolation. Some examples include: ● Locking a person indoors, including a room or dwelling ● Monitoring or limiting a person’s movement outside the home (surveillance)
Stalking by showing up to a workplace or home and/or persistently calling despite requests for no contact
Depriving someone from the use of their property or damaging property Some examples include: ● Denying a person access to their house/ car ● Taking away personal items such as a phone/computer/bank cards etc. ● Hiding or destroying identity & travel documents
Physical abuse means any act or action that causes physical injury to another person.
Physical abuse includes both the action itself and any or every attempt to commit the act. The following table outlines features of physical abuse.
TIP: Use different coloured pens or markers to tick/mark responses where you have been on the receiving end of these behaviours versus when you have displayed these behaviours yourself. Table 1.1 YES Throwing objects with the intent to harm or injure Provoking animals into attacking another person Driving recklessly or aggressively, resulting in injury Setting fire or intending to set fire to a home or building Causing bodily injury using an explosive or another dangerous chemical Procuring an abortion or the drugs to induce an abortion through coersion or without consent Making death threats through written or other means, including voice messaging, phone calls etc. Inflicting bodily injury with or without the use of a weapon. Some examples include: hitting, poisoning, choking, stabbing, shooting. Planning to kill someone or contracting another person to commit murder on your behalf Attempting to kill someone
Sexual abuse includes sexual conduct of any kind that is coerced by force or threat of
The following table outlines features of sexual abuse. TIP: Use different coloured pens or markers to tick/mark responses where you have been on the receiving end of these behaviours versus when you have displayed these behaviours yourself. Table 1.2 YES
Sexual assault Some examples include: sexual touching, sexual grooming (of a child), oral penetration. Please note: Spouses can also be charged for sexual assault under certain circumstances
Sexual conduct involving a child Please note: The term child refers to anyone under the age of 18 Sexual conduct with a family member related by blood or adoption (This is also refered to as incest) Sexual contact with a person whose ability to consent is impaired Please note: The law makes special mention of people living with mental/cognitive disabilities. Buggery/Rape Please note: Buggery refers to anal penetration, wheras rape refers to vaginal penetration. Abducting and/or holding a person against their will to facilitate sexual gratification Please note: This can be applied to a broader offence of human trafficking.
Child Abuse can include but is not limited to physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment
and neglect of a child or person under the age of eighteen, which can result in harm, the potential to cause harm or the threat of harm. DID YOU KNOW: Any adult responsible for a child must report any incidents of child abuse to the relevant authorities (Sexual Offences Act Sec. 31). Failure to report can result in a fine of $15,000 or up to 7 years imprisonment.
While all children may be exposed to or experience any of the other forms of abuse listed, the following table outlines features of abuse that are unique to children. TIP: If you are a child reviewing this table, check the boxes that describe your own experience. If you are an adult reviewing this table, check the boxes that describe your own behaviour or behaviours you have observed in other adults towards a child or children. Table 1.3 YES Exposing a child to seeing, hearing or experiencing the effects of physical and/or sexual abuse of any kind Please note: Parents who are victims of abuse are not in danger of being charged for this offence Exposing a child to any circumstance that puts their life in danger Exerting cruel punishment on a child/young person Suffocating an infant Allows a child to beg or sell items in a public or private place Exposing a child to drugs, by either giving or selling it to them or having them deliver it to someone else Allowing children to be in brothels or encouraging the prostitution of children Exposing a child to pornography
Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child
Encouraging a child to engage in any sexual activity, including with animals Mutilating the genitals of a girl child
Figure 2.0: Duluth Model of Power and Control
MALE PRIVILEGE • Treating her like a servant • Making all the big decisions • Acting like the “master of the castle” • Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles
• Preventing her from getting or keeping a job • Making her ask for money • Giving her an allowance • Taking her money • Not letting her know about or have access to family income
USING CHILDREN • Making her feel guilty about the children • Using the children to relay messages • Using visitation to harass her • Threatening to take the children away.
COERCION AND THREATS • Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her • Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare • Making her drop charges • Making her do illegal things
POWER AND CONTROL MINIMZING, DENYING AND BLAMING
• Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously • Saying the abuse didn’t happen • Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior • Saying she caused it
The wheel demonstrates the wide range of abusive behaviours demonstrated by men to control their female partners, including: physical and sexual assault; coercion and threats; intimidation; emotional abuse; social isolation; using male privilege; minimising or denying behaviour; and economic sanctions.
• Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures • Smashing things • Destroying her property • Abusing pets • Displaying weapons
• Putting her down • Making her feel bad about herself • Calling her names • Making her think she’s crazy • Playing mind games • Humiliating her •Making her feel guilty
ISOLATION • Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes • Limiting her outside involvement • Using jealousy to justify actions.
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP • Making money decisions together • Making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements
NEGOTIATION AND FAIRNESS • Seeking mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict • Accepting changes • Being willing to compromise NON-THREATENING BEHAVIOUR
Figure 2.1: Duluth Model of Equality
• Mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work • Making family decisions together.
The wheel of equality describes the qualities involved in a healthy relationship. It shows the changes necessary for men to move from being abusive to non-violent.
• Talking and acting so that she feels safe and comfortable expressing herself and doing things
RESPECT • Listening to her nonjudgmentally • Being emotionally affirming and understanding • Valuing her opinions
• Sharing parental responsibilities • Being a positive, nonviolent role model for the children. HONESTY AND ACCOUNTABILITY • Accepting responsibility for self • Acknowledging past use of violence • Admitting being wrong • Communicating openly and truthfully.
TRUST AND SUPPORT • Supporting her goals in life • Respecting her right to her own feelings, friends, activities, and opinions.
NEXT STEPS If you have completed the above exercise, you may be experiencing a range of emotions, including ones you may not have expected. But whatever the result, it is important to know that the decision to end an abusive relationship is yours to make. There are a number of interventions you can pursue, either by yourself or with your partner, to both look out for your own well-being, as well as that of your relationship. You may choose to go to the police, or you may not. The choice is entirely yours to make, but having a plan of action is critical and in some cases may be the difference between life or death. Accessing counselling or therapy can be a good first step, where you can work through your feelings and make decisions about your future. A trained professional can help you to devise an escape plan that prioritises your safety or help you and your partner repair the damage caused by abusive or violent behaviour. Finding someone who can listen, non judgmentally, to your needs is key to your healing. If you are unable to seek professional assistance and would like more information on how to create your own escape or safety plan, please visit this website: www.thehotline.org/help/ path-to-safety/
MAPPING SERVICES Knowing who you can reach out to in an emergency can sometimes mean life or death. For whatever reason, you may not feel comfortable talking to the police or even friends and family. Luckily, there are a number of other options available to you. If you are in need of urgent help, that is, if your life or the life of someone else is in immediate danger, the agencies listed below all offer support to victims of gender based violence. However, based on your specific situation, you can determine which agency can most directly address your needs. Table 2.0
STATE RUN HOTLINES National Domestic Violence Hotline
800 SAVE (7283)
996 or 800 2014
Counter Trafficking Unit
800 4CTU (4288)
NGO HOTLINES Lifeline (suicide)
GROOTS T&T (LGBT+ friendly)
230 2307 / 384 4722
131 or 800 4321
Families in Action
Rape Crisis Center of Trinidad and Tobago ES
Estas líneas directas también tienen hablantes de español.
These hotlines are listed as being active 24 hours a day. However, if you are unable to reach someone using these numbers, please call the general emergency hotline numbers listed below. Emergency
800 TIPS (8477)
Anti Crime Hotline
SPECIAL DIVISIONS Gender based Violence In January 2020, the Office of the Commissioner established the Gender based Violence Unit (GBVU) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). This Unit is made up of specially trained officers who you can call upon if you need to make a report of gender based/ domestic violence.
Contact the police station in the division nearest you. Table 2.1 Division
North Eastern (Port of Spain)
If you are not able to reach any of the listed police stations above and you are in an emergency situation, you can also contact the following senior officials: Assistant Superintendent of Police (ACP)
Manager, Gender based Violence Unit
Shireen N. Pollard
Commissioner of Police (COP)
428 4279 (GARY)
Victim and Witness Support The Victim and Witness Support Unit (VWSU) is a civilian arm of the TTPS, which is made up of mental health professionals, who offer psycho-social services to victims and witnesses of gender based violence and other crimes. To book an appointment, you can call any of the stations listed below, choosing the one nearest to you or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Table 2.2 Division
Besson St /Port of Spain
672 2004/ 671 2005
Port of Spain
Besson Street (Riverside Plaza)
625 9738/ 623 1395/ 627 9767
COVID-19 MEASURES Since the onset of stay-at-home measures introduced by the Ministry of Health during COVID-19, the levels of insecurity in the home has multiplied exponentially. The Commissioner of Police has noted the increase in domestic violence reporting and the Court has also introduced new measures to address this emerging and potentially catastrophic situation. Through the guidance of the newly formed Emergency Enhancement Committee, the Court is now able to issue Emergency Protection Orders, which are typically prepared within one hour. The magistrate can make this application on your behalf based on a police report, so you no longer need to go to the courthouse and make this application yourself. In order to access these services, please use the contact information below:
Domestic Violence 866-DVCT(3828) email@example.com Hotline
ONLINE REPORTING One of the most recent initiatives of the TTPS is the introduction of online reporting. This process can reduce some of the anxiety you may have around having to go to a police station following a violent episode. If this option appeals to you, download the TTPS mobile application to your mobile phone and follow the visual instruction guide when you are ready to make a report.
The TTPS Mobile Application was launched by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, to partner with citizens and residents to help eradicate crime in our communities. It facilitates online reporting which is an effective tool for both victims and witnesses to submit reports of domestic violence anonymously or in confidence. Simply serach â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;TTPSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in your App Store and download.
SHIFTING GEARS INTO ACTION WHAT TO DO WHEN SEEKING POLICE ASSISTANCE Many victims choose not to report incidents of violence to the police for a number of reasons. In fact, according to the 2017 national women’s health survey, 5% of women report domestic violence to the police. If, however, you decide on pursuing this course of action and want to make a police report, it is important to know what treatment and resources you are entitled to so you can feel confident entering a new and possibly intimidating environment when you are at your most vulnerable. It is also important to remember that even if you do not wish to press charges, having a ‘paper-trail’ of incidents is always advisable, since documented police reports can be used in a potential court case later on. Remember, gender based violence refers to a pattern of behaviour and so it is likely that violent incidents will reoccur, especially if both parties have not received the type of support they need to either curb violent behaviour or remove themself from an abusive situation or relationship. Please read the following section carefully before making a police report and carry this booklet with you to the police station.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE A REPORT OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AT ANY POLICE STATION According to the ‘One Door Policy’, as outlined under the TTPS Departmental Order No. 139 (dated July 22, 2008), all reports can be made at any station. Police officers are therefore required to take statements on request and pass the information onto the relevant police station on your behalf. In the specific case of gender based violence, officers can share reports directly with the Gender based Violence Unit. If an officer does not know the location of the nearest station where the GBV Unit is housed, you can consult Table. 2.1 (page 18) for a list of divisions. Departmental Orders are general instructions issued by the Commissioner of Police or an Assistant Commissioner of Police for the information of Police Officers and civilian employees. They are all required to comply with these instructions.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REQUEST THE ASSISTANCE OF A SENIOR POLICE OFFICER If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with the level of service you are receiving at a police station when making a report, you can ask for the intervention of the Duty Sergeant or Duty Inspector. If the Sergeant or Inspector are not at the station, you can request their mobile number, since this information is part of the public record and should be accessible to everyone. If after following these steps you are still not satisfied or have not been given access to a senior officer, you can lodge a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority. It is important to note that investigations done by the PCA are free of charge and not carried out by police officers. When lodging a complaint, be sure to keep your records close at hand and to continue recording actions taken during this process. These can all help to increase your chances of getting justice. A printed version of a police complaint form can be found at this website: http://www.pca.org. tt/. You can either fax or email this form to the PCA or make an in-person report at the address listed below. There is also a hotline number listed in the event of an emergency, involving any inappropriate or dangerous behaviour of a police officer.
Police Complaints Authority
Level 24, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre
Hotline: 800 2PCA (2722) Office: 226 4722 Fax: 627 0432
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED If you are afraid to go to a police station on your own, you can ask a family member or friend to remain with you while making a report. If an officer denies this request, call the National Gender based Violence Hotline for assistance at 800 SAVE.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PRODUCE YOUR OWN STATEMENT According to Police Standing Order No. 32 a ‘witness’ (which includes victims) can prepare their own statement and submit it at a later date to the attending officer who prepared the initial report. Before adding the statement to your file, it should be read aloud either by you or by the officer to confirm the details within, followed by a final opportunity to add any further details. In order to certify the statement the officer must add the following details; “I hereby certify, having received this prepared statement from [Your name] at [Police Station] on [date: day/month/year & time] He read it over/I read it over to him, and he said it was correct and signed it/made his mark/refused to sign it (as the case may be).” Officer’s Signature Police Constable Number Date
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO A COPY OF YOUR STATEMENT A copy of your statement will not be shared with you on the same day that you make a police report. Junior officers, who most frequently take reports, need to get sign-off from senior officers on the content and quality of statements before they can be finalized. This may take some time. If however you are not satisfied with the length of time you have been asked to wait (for personal reasons or legal obligations), or are questioning the likelihood of receiving them altogether, you can make a request for a station diary extract (as mentioned above). As a final resort, you can make a Freedom of Information request. This process is free-of-charge and led by the Police Legal Unit but may take up to 90 days to complete. However, once granted, you will receive all the documents from your police file. This may include your statement, witness statements and statements from the accused.
TTPS Legal Unit
Office of Head Legal Services Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Level 19, Tower C International Waterfront Centre, 1A Wrightson Road, Port of Spain
Tele: 1(868) 624-5515
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO A RECEIPT If you’ve made a report at a police station, do not forget to request a citizen’s report receipt before leaving. Even if the official document is unavailable, an officer can use a blank sheet of paper to make a temporary receipt. Be sure to check that the officer’s regimental number is clearly stated for your records and that the receipt, if temporary, is stamped and signed.
*If you fail to receive a receipt at the time of making your report, you may need to pay $50 at a later date for a station diary extract. This document will contain basic booking information, such as: name/date/time/and a brief description of the incident. Identification Cards are to be used for the purpose of identifying such persons as bona fide officers of the Service. The cards shall be shown to members of the public on demand whether in plainclothes or in uniform.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE THE SCOPE OF YOUR PROTECTION ORDER When making an application for a Protection Order with the Registrar or Clerk of the court, you can include specific requests with regard to your safety and well-being, which extends beyond the perpetrator just staying away. Things you can ask for include: • • • •
To enter a home or building to retrieve your belongings To have your property returned to you To have maintenance agreements met (past/present/future) To have the fees attached to medical expenses resulting from a violent incident reimbursed • To seek monetary relief for any other reason
For more information on how to access protection orders, you can visit the judiciary website at www.ttlawcourts.org. Head to the Public Guidance tab, click on ‘FAQs’ and then on Family Court or Magistrates’ Court links for more on Domestic Violence or Protection Orders or call 62-TTLAW (628-8529).
WHAT TO DO WHEN SEEKING MEDICAL ASSISTANCE ON REPORTING INJURIES TO THE POLICE STEP 1 - When making a report to the police, you should be sure to indicate whether or not there are any physical injuries, no matter how small. The Police should then take pictures of all injuries, which you can request copies of and print out for your own records or save to a USB. STEP 2 - After making your initial police report, you should be given a blank police medical form to head to the nearest health facility (day time) or hospital (night time) for a medical assessment. Advisory Note: Based on the severity of your injuries or specific needs, you may choose to seek medical attention before making a police report. You should not be reprimanded for this choice but bear in mind that it might mean double work for you, since it breaks the chain-ofcommand for document sharing between agencies. This will be explained further below.
ON REPORTING INJURIES TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL Calling an ambulance is always a good idea, since you will be immediately admitted to the hospitalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Accident and Emergency department and likely seen by a doctor within a shorter time period. Police Officers may also escort you to seek medical attention. STEP 1 -The Doctor should make note of all injuries on the Police Medical Form, so be sure to give as many details as you can about the incident and injuries sustained. The Doctor should also add his/her signature to the form. STEP 2 - Before leaving the hospital or health facility, be sure to collect a chit (usually a small slip of blue or white paper), which confirms that you were examined. This chit should then be handed over to the police, so they can gain access to and collect your medical records for further investigation. STEP 3 - If possible, make a copy of this chit before returning/going to the police station for the purposes of building your own recordsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; file. Since having access to a photo copying machine may be unlikely, take a picture with your mobile phone.
[STAMP ] [N AM E OF HEA LTH FAC I L I TY ]
Advisory Note: If you have sought medical care before going to the police, you will need to go back to the hospital or health facility in order to ensure that the attending Doctor completes and signs the Police Medical Form after you’ve made your police report. You will also then need to return to the police station to drop off the chit.
IN THE CASE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT We acknowledge that gender based violence may not only involve physical violence and can be further complicated by sexual assault. Below we have summarized guidelines outlined in a TTPS brochure, which can help you determine the best course of action if you have been sexually assaulted. Advisory Note: Please review the table on page 13 if you are unsure about whether what you have experienced constitutes sexual abuse.
Guidelines for Victims of Sexual Assault
• Report the incident immediately/or soon as possible to the nearest Police Station or call E-999 • Do not take a shower or wash any part of your body or clothes • Do not touch, move or destroy any item that may be used as evidence
• Inform Police Officers of all details of the attack and anything unusual you may have noted about the attacker. You may be asked, for example, to recall what was said and how it was said or for physical features such as a scar or birthmark • After being advised by the attending Police Officer, you can proceed to the nearest hospital to have a medical and internal gynaecological exam • Inform the doctor of the details of the assault. Any medical evidence of the assault should be noted by the doctor, including bruising and injuries (bleeding, cuts/lacerations, etc); external and internal • Be prepared for a request by the Doctor to take semen smears • Doctors may also test for any vaginal infections and pregnancy at a later stage
ON ACCESSING YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS If for legal or other reasons you need a copy of your medical records, you can make an application for Patient Records at the Medical Records Department of the medical facility that did your assessment.
TIP: If your assessment was done at one of the Regional Health Authorities, you can email your request for medical records. Call the numbers below to verify the correct address for processing.
Ministry of Health Head Office
#63 Park Street, Port-of-Spain
627-0010 627-0011 627-0012
Advisory Note: It is important for you to know that your patient records can be used as evidence of your injuries in legal matters in lieu of having a police medical form. Retrieving your patient records can take between 6-8 weeks, so be sure to request these long in advance of your court appearance or legal proceedings.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED? The journey to end gender based violence is a long and difficult one that requires everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to staying the course. And the reality is, no single service provider, including the government, is fully equipped to deal with the wide ranging root causes and consequences of gender based violence. NGOs help to fill critical gaps in service provision but, unfortunately, most do not receive financial support from the state and rely either partially or entirely on volunteer commitments. For those who have been indirectly affected by violence or are committed to ending gender based violence, finding ways to support may look differentâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;like volunteering with or donating resources to a shelter or NGO. Getting involved can help to fast track progress towards ending gender based violence, even if you are only able to help one person. For many survivors of gender based violence, helping other survivors process their trauma and also supporting them as they navigate state systems in the pursuit of justice can be both empowering and healing. Listed below are a number of organizations that work directly with survivors and can benefit from your first-hand knowledge and/or personal investment in ending gender based violence. ORGANIZATION
Coalition Against DoFree counselling for victims & perpetrators, mestic Violence of Trini- young people & couples dad and Tobago Psycho social support for the elderly Police training Public education/outreach Advocacy Legal aid
624-0402 627-6844 firstname.lastname@example.org
Conflict Women Ltd.
Financial empowerment Business development workshops for survivors Mentorship Seed capital
Operates Helpline Assessment & referrals Free counselling Community outreach Support Groups Workplace support Training programmes Peer counselling
622 6952 (POS) 679-7931 (Pt. Lisas) 235-6237 (Arima) email@example.com
Families in Action
Website: www.conflictwomen. com
Wesbite: www.familiesinaction. net
Grassroots Organisations Operates Helpline Operating Together in Sisterhood Assessment & referral services Counselling Transition Home Emergency Housing
220 5986 383 8464 (WhatsApp) firstname.lastname@example.org
Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals
Legal aid Public Education Advocacy Police training
798 6185 704-1962 (WhatsApp) email@example.com
24 hr hotline Free counselling services Education/outreach Training workshops Survivor Support Group
622-7273 (POS) 657-5355 (San Fernando) firstname.lastname@example.org
Police training Referral services Legal aid Public education Advocacy Workshop Facilitation
718 6626 email@example.com
Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago
Profile : www.ngocaribbean.org/ organisation-for-abused-and-battered-individuals
Profile: www.ngocaribbean.org/ rape-crisis-society-of-trinidad-tobago
Conclusion Thank you for taking this Journey to Justice with us! We know it may have been a rough ride at times, especially for those of you who were able to confront difficult truths about yourself, your relationship(s) and the overall health and preparedness of your family unit to weather storms, past, present and future. Along the way, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve shared some definitions and behaviours associated with gender based violence and provided a check-list so that you may determine your own level of risk and the risk you may pose to others, given the dynamic of your interpersonal relationships. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve armed you with the details of multi sectoral service providers, so you know where you can turn to for support and also have the tools to navigate the system, ensuring equality of treatment and human dignity. We hope that for those of you who are ready to take the next step and seek help for yourself and your family that this guide was able to make that process just a little bit easier. Please keep this booklet safe and refer to it anytime you need a boost or reminder that you are not alone. There are people and organizations that can help and WOMANTRA is one of them. And please, be gentle with yourself. Your struggle is just part of your story.