Hope for domestic violence survivors

Tan Heng-Lee | 13 March 2017

When her husband hit her, Alice knew she had to leave.

She called 999, and they gave her Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) hotline number. With WAO’s assistance, she lodged a police report and obtained an interim protection order. The police supported her throughout the process, even arranging her transportation to meet with the deputy public prosecutor. The court subsequently found her husband guilty of domestic violence.

Alice obtained justice because various stakeholders worked together in responding to her case.

Her story is one of 21 stories featured in WAO’s newly-launched case study report – ‘Perspectives on Domestic Violence: A Coordinated Community Response to a Community Issue’. In the report, domestic violence survivors share their experiences leaving violence, accessing protection, and seeking justice. Their stories show how a coordinated community response can change the lives of women facing domestic violence.

“This response must come not only from NGOs and the police, the welfare department and other government stakeholders, but from every community member. At the centre of this coordinated community response must always be the survivor,” explained Natasha Dandavati, WAO’s advocacy officer and author of the report.

The report also highlights WAO statistics and recommendations for policy makers to strengthen the response to domestic violence. The case study report can be downloaded at wao.org.my.

Together with the report, WAO also launched ‘Harapan Sentiasa Ada’, an art exhibit at Masjid Jamek LRT station, on display from March to mid-May 2017. The art exhibit features artwork by domestic violence survivors, their quotes, and illustrations of TINA. TINA or ‘Think I Need Aid’, is the WAO SMS/WhatsApp help service – conceptualised as a person survivors can talk to.

The art exhibit is sponsored by Selangor Properties Berhad and supported by Think City, as part of the Arts On The Move programme – a joint initiative by Think City and Prasarana Malaysia Berhad.

“Our art exhibit amplifies the voices of domestic violence survivors, many of them now empowered advocates in their own right. Their art offers hope to other survivors, and encourages them to seek protection and justice,” said Tan Heang-Lee, WAO’s communications officer.

“Art and stories make the impersonal personal. By highlighting the stories of domestic violence survivors, we also hope that the public will recognise our collective responsibility to reach out and support survivors. Domestic violence is a community issue – and it takes all of us to end domestic violence,” added Tan.

The launch was held in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Through these projects, WAO hopes to amplify the voices of domestic violence survivors, enhance their access to protection, and ensure a coordinated community response to domestic violence. Together, we can bring hope and change the lives of domestic violence survivors.

If you or someone you know experiences abuse

Call the WAO Hotline at 03 7956 3488. Or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058.

TAN HEANG-LEE is communications officer, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

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