Supporting domestic violence survivors

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Photograph: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas/Pexels

No one deserves to be abused or to have to choose between her safety and career, the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

Last month, the Sessions Court instructed YouTuber Pavithra to submit a letter stating she does not wish to proceed with the domestic violence case against her husband.

The reported abuse against Pavithra by her husband has received much public attention. We would like to make a few brief points.

First, no one deserves to be abused or to have to choose between their safety and career. Domestic violence is a pattern of violence, abuse or intimidation used to control or maintain power over a partner who is or has been in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can involve physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse.

Second, survivors’ autonomy should be prioritised. When deciding whether to proceed or withdraw the police report, many survivors consider many factors – like personal safety, children, finances and emotions. It is a difficult decision, but survivors are in the best position to assess their risks and make their own informed decisions.

Third, while we must respect survivors’ decisions, we must also ensure that adequate support systems exist – so that survivors can make the decisions best for them.

Towards this end, we must allocate sufficient resources to crisis services – through the federal budget. The WAO’s recommendations for the coming Budget include:

  • Allocate an additional RM50m to build new crisis shelters and improve existing shelters for gender-based violence survivors
  • Allocate an additional RM5m to operate and improve 24/7 telephone and web-based crisis hotlines (both public and NGO-operated)
  • Create a separate annual fund of RM20 million to combat gender-based violence in future health and security emergencies
  • Set up an inter-agency fund to train first-responders – including police, medical officers and welfare officers – handling gender-based violence
READ MORE:  Movement control order: Treat domestic violence support as essential service

Lastly, to anyone facing abuse out there, know that you are not alone. If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can reach out to:

  • Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) – Call 03 7956 3488 or WhatsApp TINA at 018 9888 058 (24 hours)
  • Women’s Centre for Change (WCC Penang) – Call 04 228 0342/04 398 8340 or WhatsApp 011 3108 4001/016 439 0698 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm)
  • Talian Kasih Hotline 15999

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