Psychiatrist laments violence used to settle domestic disputes

Psychiatrist Dr Varma Deyalsingh. FILE PHOTO –

PSYCHIATRIST Dr Varma Deyalsingh has echoed acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob’s belief that too many domestic issues are ending in violence.

Deyalsingh told the Newsday on Sunday, “I am in full agreement with the acting commissioner.

“We are living in an intolerant, violent society where people learn to handle conflicts through violence.

“Regrettably, in a country like ours, with crimes, murders, and violence occurring so frequently, this constant exposure to violent crimes leaves no breathing space with a crime-free period for the psyche to heal, and it is sometimes more challenging to help the survivors.”

After the murders of six people in three separate domestic incidents in September to date, Jacobs lamented the violent means families were using to settle disputes.

Fifteen-month-old Sariah Williams was among the victims. She was chopped to death by a male relative while sitting in the lap of her grandmother Michelle Williams.

Reports said the baby was not the intended target but was caught in the middle of a domestic dispute with the suspect and his target, two Sundays ago at the family’s Tarodale home, Ste Madeleine.

Sariah was laid to rest on Saturday. The suspect is expected to appear virtually before a San Fernando Magistrate on Monday. He is also charged with maliciously wounding Michelle Willams and common assault on the child’s mother, Nikita Williams.

Over the weekend, three members of an El Socorro family – grandmother Kumarie Kowlessar-Timal, 76, her daughter Radeshka Timal-David, 48, and grandson Zachary David, 20 –were shot to death in their home. A relative has been detained in connection with the killings.

On September 21, mother and daughter Savitri Sooklal and Ariana Sandeepa Balgobin of Claxton Bay were also killed in what police suspect is another domestic situation.

Deyalsingh said these familial issues which are ending in violence and murder are often outside the knowledge and control of the police.

“They occur behind closed doors. We are living in an intolerant, violent society where people learn to handle conflicts through violence.”

He cited as one of the various reasons why this occurs a lack of respected elders in homes to act as authority figures to calm the situation

“Low perception of danger, not thinking threats are real,” he gave as a second reason.

He warned, “We need to red-flag persons escalating in their threats, using drugs, not sleeping, and having a history of violence.”

He suggested new factors like the covid19 lockdown and unemployment can also trigger violence.

He noted the failure of potential perpetrators to seek help from either the Ministry of Social and Family Services which can provide counselling; mediation centres; justices of the peace; or other family members.

“We need more community policing to get to know the community and know which home may need attention.

“We need bystander activism, where if a neighbour sees a conflict, they can report it. And we need to educate the public on an application for restraining orders.”

Deyalsingh also spoke about the strain incidents like these can have on the future of survivors, who may feel anger and blame themselves.

“Some undergo guilt and depression. Children who witness violent acts perpetrated by a relative have an inner conflict, where a relative who they love, and who should protect the family, turns on them.

“They have trust issues later on, as well as post-trauma stress, anxiety, and depression. They need to process what happened.”

He suggested adults seek counselling from the Victim Support Unit, social services, or mental health clinics.