ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada - For many years, Jane*, 44, was happy living with her partner and their two children. Like other families, they had their ups and downs but even during difficult times her partner always put their family first.
A decade into the relationship, things began to change. Jane’s partner became aggressive and eventually, verbally and physically abusive. “There were no signs of any turning point, no indication of another partner, no clue of what caused the change in his actions towards me,” says Jane.
"I didn't know how to deal with or react to the abuse. But being a part of the group and hearing other stories gave me a sense that I am not alone." - Jane*, survivor of violence
After a violent incident that led to police involvement, she separated from her partner, however her children also became abusive towards her. The situation escalated, and the adult children were eventually removed from Jane’s home.
Jane knew she needed counselling and visited the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic to understand what services were available to her. Social Services put her in contact with the Sweet Water Foundation, a civil society organization that offers psychological counselling to survivors of violence. These services are much needed in Grenada, where 39 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime. The organization was recently awarded a grant by the Spotlight Initiative to continue their work to end violence against women and girls.
At Sweet Water, Jane was able to attend counselling sessions and receive professional psychosocial support. She also became part of a support group of survivors who made her feel safe and took part in therapeutic activities like painting.
“Before, everything would be bottled up because I didn't know how to deal with or react to the abuse. But being a part of the group and hearing others' stories gave me a sense that I am not alone, that I can make it and that people are there to support me through everything," she says.
"If my testimony can help another woman who is suffering in silence then that will empower me even more." - Jane*, 44
Jasmin Redhead, an attorney who works with Sweet Water Foundation, explains that the organization offers “a holistic programme that affords survivors the opportunity to be exposed to activities that they would not normally be exposed to, like kayaking, sailing and yoga. These are all activities that strengthen the bond among the support group.”
Jane says that she and many of the other women have now become close friends outside of the organization: “We will call each other just to talk and make plans to go out… like a sisterhood," she says.
“If my testimony can help another woman who is suffering in silence then that will empower me even more. When I see women who are experiencing domestic violence, I know what it is like and my heart goes out to them. They need to know that all they need is a bit of support, they don’t need to rely on a man for anything,” she says.
By Anika Davis
*Name has been changed to protect survivor’s identity.