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“I couldn’t live in denial any longer,” she continued. “It was too serious to ignore. I had to protect both myself and my child. This had to stop. My child was not going to grow up witnessing this abuse and thinking it was normal.”

Once Emily decided to press charges, she went to the Centre Against Abuse to get more information on how to obtain a protection order. They were helpful and she admits she’s extremely thankful for the support and guidance they provided.

“I had no idea when I pressed charges and put matters dealing with my child through the Family Court, just how tough a situation I was up against,” she explained. “I thought the hardest part would be making the statement, pressing charges and starting the court process, but that was only the beginning.

“I thought the relationship with my ex was bad and what happened when it got violent was awful, but nothing prepared me for the resistance I would be met with once I took a stand on things. I thought I could pick up the pieces and move on, but my ex was still able to manipulate and control things through the court system. At times I felt powerless and doubted my strength to carry it through.”

Emily enlisted the help of Tina Laws, the founder of abuse support agency UnderKonstruction, after the Centre Against Abuse suggested Mrs. Laws as another resource.


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As Tina Laws struggled to get out of an abusive relationship, her grandmother had faith that God would use the hardship for good.

It took nearly 30 years before Bernice Brangman’s prayers came to fruition.

Mrs Laws offers counselling to people affected by domestic violence through the business she opened this year, UnderKonstruction.

“She knew that I was in an abusive relationship in my late teens,” Mrs Laws said of her late grandmother. “She told me, ‘One day God is going to use this, all of this, for your good’.

“I never realised that would be possible, but I’m here 26 years later and everything she spoke is coming to pass. I didn’t tell other people about the physical abuse back then, but I told her and used to talk to her about it and she would tell me to keep praying. She said, ‘God is going to use every experience you go through in this relationship so that He will get the glory out of it’. I didn’t fully understand it, although I trusted her. Years later and I’m still in awe with how God is working in my business and how it is all happening.”

Mrs Laws had been working in Social Services but didn’t feel she was doing enough of God’s work.

“God’s hand has definitely been on UnderKonstruction,” she said.


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You’ve kept the abuse a secret from your friends and family for the past few years. Now you’re answering the most personal questions, having pictures taken of your bruises and living environment, being assessed by a nurse at the hospital, talking to a lawyer or agency, and are giving an expectant date and time for your court appearance.

After you’ve returned to your safe space, your partner removed from your shared accommodations and served the Domestic Violence Order [DVO], you are back to your daily regime.

But now what?

October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Under Konstruction is an independent agency providing education and therapeutic support for those looking to take the first brave steps out of an abusive relationship.

As a human services professional, and with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, masters in criminology, and the various domestic violence trainings, I assist women who are currently in, recently out off, or continue to cope with the ill effects of an abusive relationship.


Read full article originally published by The Royal Gazette.

Tina Laws’s boyfriend gave her a black eye; she told people she was hit by a golf ball.

She’s sure no one believed her, but no one questioned her story either.

“We talk about cancer, we talk about lupus, we talk about all kinds of things,” she said. “But domestic violence is a secret. It is such a hush-hush conversation. Why?”

The 44-year-old’s support group Underkonstruction, has put abuse on the discussion table.

Females who get in touch are initially provided with a listening ear. Group therapy and counselling comes later.

According to Mrs Laws, a lot of women are reluctant to go to organisations targeting domestic violence because the first advice they’re given is to “leave”.

“Some women just aren’t ready,” she said. “The ultimate goal is to get the victims to a safe space in their life, far away from their abuser, but as much as I would like for abused women to pack their bags and leave, the reality is it is not going to happen overnight. Underkonstruction is here not just when they are ready to leave, but also while they remain in their circumstances.”

She stayed in her dysfunctional relationship for six years, mainly out of fear.

“It got to a place where I couldn’t leave because it got crazy,” she said. “If I left [he would say] I was looking for licks. He would show up at my job or my house at any time and take me wherever he [wanted].


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“But a year after being back with him we went out one night and a guy friend spoke to me. Everything seemed fine, but when we got back home he slapped me so hard. It was literally a ringing slap.

“That night I fought back. I knew that was it. I realized we were actually better as friends. After leaving that relationship finally, once and for all, I got my control back. I was relieved after it ended.

“That next day he came back and was fixing a flower pot that got broken during the fight and I looked at him and said ‘That’s it. We are done.’ We had a child together so that was difficult, but I gained my own power back and didn’t give him the power to dictate how and when the relationship was going to function.”

Earlier this year, Mrs. Laws started her own group and individual therapy service, UnderKonstruction, after seeing how much shame still existed around domestic violence on the island.

“Twenty one years later people still weren’t talking about it,” she said.

“It’s always been something that happens behind closed doors and only if you know someone or see it with your own eyes will you know,” she said. “It’s a conversation that has just been swept under the rug.”

Mrs. Laws got to see the extent of the problem back in 2005, when she went to university to get her bachelor’s degree in psychology and masters in criminology. While there she started to volunteer her time at two women’s shelters and noticed that domestic violence wasn’t just affecting one type of person, but rather people from all walks of life.

“Working with those ladies brought all those old feelings back to the surface,” she explained. “I could relate to their struggles and the repetitive patterns of breaking up and then going back to the abuse.

“There were millionaires in that center, people who were poor – all walks of life and what it showed me was we are all going through this and that domestic violence has no face.

Victory Over Violence

Teen Domestic Violence Awareness

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It’s 3:29pm on a sunny Monday afternoon. My homework is packed away in my bag, motorcycle keys in hand, jacket already on and zipped up and my helmet is under my desk. It’s 3:30pm, the dismissal bell rings, and I am the first one out of the classroom door.

As I pass my friends in the hallway, I wave goodbye, and swiftly head towards the parking lot. I approach my motorcycle to find my dating partner, Chase sitting on my bike waiting for me. Although happy to see him, I notice that he is wearing a straight face as though something was wrong.

So, instead of asking him what was wrong, I act as if I don’t notice his expression. I give him a hug and tell him how much I missed him throughout the day. What happens over the next 2 hours, is extremely draining, degrading, and a total waste of our time together. Why do I stay?

February is the National Teen Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and according to U.S statistics, there are 1.5 million teenagers nationwide being affected yearly by physical abuse alone, of a dating partner. It is also noted that 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their teens about domestic violence. Many teens are of the opinion that if their dating partner is not physically attacking them, then they are not being abused.

Teen dating violence represents emotional, verbal, sexual, digital, financial, religious and physical abuse. There are many forms of abuse that one may not detect if they are not being educated about it. Domestic violence is often spoken of as an adult issue, however it is important to note that teenagers are also being abused by their dating partner daily.

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