By: Dayana C. Banchs Rodríguez
Three panelists gave a press conference about domestic violence in the Chardón Building of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM) on Wednesday October 15, 2014. The conference press was directed to Writing for the Communications Media students.
The conference became interesting when they started to talk about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Transvestite (LGBTT) and the laws that protect this community when they are victims of domestic violence.
The panelists were Dr. Luis Nieves Rosa, a social sciences professor at UPRM and a researcher in topics related to domestic violence among same-sex couples; Vanessa Díaz Collazo, attorney at law and Prof. Luisa Seijo Maldonado, a social sciences professor at UPRM, researcher in the topics related to domestic violence and currently director of “Siempre Vivas Project” in the UPRM. They panelists answered some questions about domestic violence that you can read below.
What’s domestic violence?
“Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior which involves abuse from one person against another. Usually it is in a domestic context such as marriage, cohabitation, and recently same sex couples. It can include different forms of violence, such as emotional, economical, physical, verbal and other types of violence,” said Dr. Nieves.
What’s Law 54?
“Law 54 is the law approved in Puerto Rico to protect domestic violence victims and punish the abusers. When the law was originally approved, it only considered heterosexual partners. In the present, however, they are beginning to apply the law to heterosexual and homosexual partners and the Supreme Court has decided to establish an amendment in 2013 to include all partners,” answered Díaz.
Domestic violence signs
According to Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships article, there are many types of domestic violence, but usually most of the victims have the same signs. To identify these signs, you must pay close attention to the details because both, the victims and offenders, do their best to hide them. The most important sign is fear of their partners.
Other signs include a partner who belittles or tries to control everything about the other person, or if the possible victim expresses he or she have feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
There are many options for protection; one is the order of protection in itself. The judge can also have the aggressor taken out of the home. There’s also the option of taking the victim out of the house and placing her or him in a shelter until the suspect is prosecuted. Also, if the couple has kids the custody can be taken away from the suspect and the visits to the children can be restricted.
Order of protection
“The protection order is provided by law 54. When you want to ask for an order and of protection, you have to go to court, tell a judge why you need a protection order then the judge evaluates the situation and he or she can decide whether to give the protection order or cite the aggressor for a hearing in court,” said Vanessa Díaz.
“If the judge thinks that the victim is in danger, the judge will grant the order of protection, then, in five or six days, there will be a hearing where the aggressor and the victim go in front of the judge and the judge will hear both sides of the story.”
What to do…
The website http://www.helpguide.org suggests that if you are a victim or know someone who is a domestic violence victim, the right thing is to take action. Certainly, it is important to help the victim, but this must be done very carefully so you can be successful in your objective. For example, ask if something is wrong, try to express concern, listen and validate, offer help and support the victim in his or her decisions.