Executive Director of Lifeline Ministries, Tina Alexander, has announced the launch of a domestic violence hotline in Dominica, sponsored by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (FCLI).
Speaking at a Dominica National Council of Women’s (DNCW) ceremony to celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday, she said that the hotline will be toll-free, and available 24/7 to those in need.
“Our help line, being launched today, is born out of the collective experiences of DNCW and Lifeline, and is aimed at those who need advice about how to report what’s happening to them and the courage to face their situation and do something. Our service will be available 24/7 on 1-800-744-3629,” she said.
She stated that all calls will be answered by trained responders who are educated on the various options and services available to victims, both from government and non-government agencies. She assured that all responders are qualified and trained to be professional and discreet.
“These free calls will be automatically forwarded to a responder. All the responders have been trained to help, with up-to-date information about both government services, and those offered by the NGOs [Non-Government Organizations], such as those who belong to the NGO Coalition for the Protection of Children and Youth,” Alexander explained. “We also have information about counsellors, victim supporters and support groups. We can direct you to Crime Stoppers for anonymous tips, and explain the process of reporting to the Police or Welfare. All our responders report to a qualified supervisor—either a counsellor or a social worker, and they will make sure that we respond professionally and confidentially.”
She emphasized that the hotline will not be a means of reporting abuse, but a form of encouragement to those who have suffered from abuse.
According to Alexander, seven public meetings were held in Portsmouth, Salibya, Mero, Roseau, Grand Bay, La Plaine, and Marigot, where over 200 people were educated on recognizing the signs of abuse, reporting cases of abuse, and recovering from abuse.
Additionally, in light of recent allegations of three adult males being involved in inapproprate behavior involving a minor, Alexander underscored the need to change Dominica’s reputation.
“Let us change Dominica’s reputation. We don’t want Dominica to be known as somewhere where it’s easy to pay for play, where child sex and pornography is available with one ‘sext’ or a WhatsApp message…” she pressed. “We want Dominica to be known as somewhere that’s unusually tough on sex crimes, especially those with children, where society as a whole takes it job of protecting the children seriously.”
A special plea was made to those who have been living as secret victims of abuse to come forward, and possibly save others from suffering the same fate.
The project, which received CAD$25,275, also funded some improvements to the facility at DNCW, in order to provide confidential surroundings for the support groups in training.