I woke up suddenly to the sound of broken glass, banging on the wall and a man yelling and shouting. It was 3.45 AM and I had been only a few days in this new country. I looked through all my papers for the phone number to call the police but I didn’t have that info and I hadn’t come across phone books here yet. All other rooms in the share accommodation were dark, everyone else seemed either still asleep or trying to ignore what was happening next door. I felt useless. After 45 minutes, all became silent. A strange silence subtly revealing lots of hurt, bruises, broken hearts, sad and traumatic memories emotionally scaring kids for life. I know how it hurts. Many of you know this too.
The house next door was in very poor condition but rather large and hosted three families. The elderly father passed away last year. Family struggled living together and managing their finances – that’s was what the old man did best. They now had sold the property to my landlords and were waiting for the final property exchange. In the meantime, they came and asked them regularly for advanced money that sadly went straight to the too numerous bottle shops around town. Friday nights were the worst.
The next morning I questioned the landlords living on the ground floor on what’s the protocol when domestic violence happens here. Like me, they had heard the noise and fights last night but, as usual, turned around in bed and ignored it. I asked them why they didn’t call the police to report this domestic violence incident? That’s when the penny dropped!
“Oh, no” – said the landlord – “This is only family stuff, not domestic violence!”
I realised that for him the word ‘domestic’ didn’t have a clear meaning. I explained the origin of domestic – ‘domus’ means ‘house’ in Latin – then I thought I must be a little silly talking about Latin on that island in the middle of the Pacific! – So ‘domestic violence’ is of course family stuff but… culturally speaking , in the Pacific Islands, when it comes to family differences, hardly anybody would interfere!
There is a “Safe Haus” around the corner though, locals all know about it. It is a safe place, a refuge for family members suffering from violence at home.
English speakers often assume that everyone understands English. In the Pacific Islands, locals speak their own language and Pidgin English so… lots get lost in translation!
I wonder how deeper impact renaming domestic violence into “Violence blo Haus” or “Haus Violence” or “Family Violence” would have on people reacting and calling for help?
Violence is everyone’s business.
When you witness violence, call the police and you can stay anonymous.
Your call can change lives and even save one!
We see it on the news, violence is everywhere, in your country too.
Think about it, saving a life is only a phone call away.
International Feng Shui Master & Author