By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
OFFICIALS at the Bahamas Crisis Centre have announced plans for a two-day workshop next week aimed at equipping religious leaders with the tools needed to discuss the issue of domestic violence.
Donna Nicolls, a volunteer counsellor at the Crisis Centre and senior organiser for the workshop, explained that the event, on September 29 and 30, is a conference the centre has worked to produce for "quite some time now".
She stated that due to a lack of financial and human resources the Crisis Centre has had to limit its response to an issue she claimed has drastically affected many Bahamian lives.
According to Mrs Nicolls, the Crisis Centre was approached by Rev Courtney Stewart, of the Bible Society of the West Indies, who presented plans to collaborate with them on a domestic violence workshop for local religious leaders.
The Society's involvement allowed the Crisis Centre not only to offer the workshop but to offer it free of charge to those that decide to take part.
Bahamas Christian Council president Ranford Patterson labelled the workshop "important", insisting that many Bahamians are hurting because of domestic violence, but are suffering in silence.
"I think that it is important for us who are in the church to be aware of some of the problems that this social ill is having on our people, especially our women and our children. I think it is important for us to participate and be there to show our support, to be a part of what our brothers and sisters are doing in our country," he said.
Rev Patterson added: "I think all of us need to understand the challenges that domestic violence plays in our society. I think that too many people are hurting because of domestic violence; and some times, no one seems to know what is going on so it is a hidden, I believe, social ill that we have."
The Crisis Centre has invited church leaders from across the country to attend the seminar.
Minister Simone Bowe, Crisis Centre affiliate and advocate for women empowerment, added that it is time for Bahamians to take the domestic violence discussion to the next level.
She implored civic leaders to have an open, honest and frank dialogue about the role of the church should play in dealing with domestic violence.
"I think far too often in our country we sweep things under the rug and we don't get the necessary help that we need; going home and praying about it isn't necessarily the right option for people who are in situations where their very lives are in danger, our statistics are proving that every day," Mrs Bowe said.
Experts have indicated that many victims of abuse feel too ashamed to talk openly about their experiences. People that are abused often feel if they were a better person or spouse then the abuse would not occur.
The Crisis Centre is a non-profit, ideologically independent organisation primarily pledged to respond to the needs of all victims of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
Church groups and organisations interested in attending the conference are asked to pre-register through the Crisis Centre.