Orientation held for domestic violence hotline operators

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security on Monday, hosted an orientation exercise for 17 domestic violence hotline operators. The operators will be manning the 914 toll-free hotline, which was established to be a safe space where men, women and children suffering abuse could seek help.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud delivers her address at the orientation session.

During brief remarks at the event held at the Palms Geriatric Home, Minister Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud told the operators that the 914 hotline would play a critical role in providing support to victims of domestic abuse.

The way in which violence goes and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many persons experiencing violence are in very close proximity with the perpetrators of the abuse and violence and it is extremely difficult to not only get that strength to call, but to find that space, to seek help and when they do find all of those things, to call 914, we must give them help,” she said.

The Minister added that it is imperative that trust is built between the persons calling and the operators. The Ministry would be hosting continuous training, and assessment and evaluation of each operator on a regular basis.

“Trust is very critical, so your intervention will be in many different ways. There will be need for immediate intervention. Someone’s in the throes of a violent situation right now, and is calling for help. That help should be forthcoming because you have the list of first line responders who you should be calling to get that help, don’t just call and leave it, follow up,” Minister Persaud explained.

Ms. Akilah Doris of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Policy Unit at the orientation exercise.

Dr. Persaud said in addition to help such as shelter and counselling, people must be able to access support through the Difficult Circumstances Unit as well as Public Assistance. Through the Ministry’s Cottage Industry Skills initiative, training would also be provided to adults, including single parents, since poverty is a contributing factor to domestic violence.

The orientation was conducted by Ms. Akilah Doris of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Policy Unit.  The operators were also exposed to training in conflict management and resolution in the workplace.

The Ministry launched the 914 hotline in December in collaboration with UNICEF, Digicel Guyana, GTT and the Guyana Telecommunications Agency.

The 914 hotline operators

Budget 2021 provides for a significant increase in the subvention to the organisations providing support to victims of domestic violence, including Help and Shelter, which will benefit from over $50 million this year.

In addition to the establishment of a court superintendent department, which will be equipped with a cadre of lawyers to lead prosecutions in each regional division for cases of domestic violence, a Survivors Advocates Programme will also be implemented to offer emotional support and crisis counselling to victims of violence and abuse.

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