photo: Esther Henry

THE BOTTOM/ORANJESTAD – “I was punched in the face repeatedly and also my son was attacked. My son was frightened after the experience and took the blame.”

Brittany Johnson is a victim of physical assault on Saba. Feeling safe and protected is difficult on a small island. “The man who attacked me was released the next day. This gives him a chance to do it again. I don’t know how the police or our laws work here. This makes me feel scared.”

Victim Brittany Johnson

Miluska Hansen, communication officer of the local police force acknowledges that assaults on small islands can be difficult to deal with. “We had a case lately where together with the police we have send the person back to Colombia. They had to search the whole house for the persons passport as her partner took it from her. The victim was afraid that when he was released, he would kill her and his family was also on the side of the partner, because he was in prison.”

According to her there is no specific trend in assaults looking at the statistics of 2017. On Saba, the number of violent crimes registered in 2017 is 31, which is 7 less than 2016. One of the aspects that show an increase compared to last year is assaults that went up from 7 to 16 instances. Domestic violence on the other hand, shows a decrease of 8 instances.

‘We need to educate our young men and our community’

However in Statia, domestic violence and cases of threat have increased. Last year there were 14 assaults, three assaults with weapons, 18 threats and six incidents of domestic violence.

Counselor Brenda van Puten says: “In Sint Eustatius last year the Bureau Slachtofferhulp (victim support) had 10 cases of domestic violence between men and wife/partner and 3 of child abuse due to domestic violence.”

She continues: “In my opinion, it’s the lack of education. We need to educate our young men and our community. We need to give family support in cases of violence such as partners therapy. In most cases, it goes back in history. If your dad /granddad does/did it, children seem to think its normal to do it too.”