DoGA introduces Support and Referral Centre

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Victims of gender-based violence can now seek all the help they need at a new centre.
At the launch of the Support and Referral Centre (SARC) under the Directorate of Gender Affairs yesterday, the feature speaker gave a chilling presentation about her own ordeal of rape.
“My neighbours didn’t believe me. They called me crazy, and a liar. When another lady was raped in the very same unit, only then did they heed my warnings, my words and my plight,” Nisbett stated.
She also recalled seeing episodes of domestic violence in her childhood home where her mother was the victim and her father was the perpetrator.
“My earliest memories of being a child in Antigua was my father throwing stones at my mother, my father hitting my mother with a cutlass and my father cutting, hitting and biting my mother. Constant abuse by a man who was supposed to love her, caused her to escape to the United States,” she said.
Nibsett told the audience that she wished she had had such a centre when the crime against her occurred.
“Imagine if all the services I needed were in one place. Imagine if the movement I had to make was from one room to the next tended to by trained staff during the whole process. Imagine if my mother had the option of calling a 24 hour hotline as she fled her abuser and provided with emergency shelter for up to 48 hours.”
Minister of Social Transformation Samantha Marshall said that SARC is the first of its kind in the OECS, and the relevant services will now be offered under one roof.
“Those victimised by the crimes of rape, sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence will receive the services they require without the trauma of bouncing from building to building over and over again.”
Marshall also said much research went into the development of this centre and it will be equipped with professional help.
“For the first time, we are housing professionals from our medical, justice and social services working together to empower victims, fight crime and promote justice.”
Representatives of other NGOs which help women fight domestic violence and sex crimes including Women Against Rape (WAR) were present at the event held at Friendly Alley in St John’s.

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