One woman explains why domestic violence sufferers are left at the mercy of aggressors

Olivienne Felice’s Facebook post in Women for Women details the pitiful state of law enforcement and social services assisting domestic violence victims

Women have to wait for at least four to five hours at the Malta police headquarters in Floriana to file a domestic violence report, one woman said in the Facebook group Women For Women.

Shocking testimonies of Malta’s weak framework for law enforcement against domestic violence and abuse have emerged in the wake of the cold-blooded murder of Bernice Cassar on Tuesday, whose husband Roderick Cassar has now been arrested.

Olivienne Felice said the system has not changed and the entities that assist abused women cannot help much than they are already doing. “The system has to change.”

“If you go during the day you will wait for hours, and I mean 4 to 5 the least. If you go at night you might wait 2 to 3,” Olivienne Felice said. “You could even wait more if the system is down. If you have kids with you, you cannot take them with you during interrogation. Once they call you to go, you have to walk in a dark street and the place is really old,” she said of the Floriana compound.

Inside the DV Unit’s room, there are at least three officers, one of whom is answering emergency telephone calls. “So while you are trying to give your statement you will listen to all the emergency calls.”

Felice said that victims whose physical abuse has not been medically certified, will not get the attack recorded. Messages of abuse cannot be older than 24 hours, and harassment is only considered when this occurs on a daily basis, not once or twice a week. “The risk assessment by Appogġġ is ‘low’ for psychological abuse. It only marks ‘medium’ if you have physical evidence and ‘high’ in case of drowning in bath or rope marks on your neck.”

The aggressor will be called after the report is submitted. But action can take place at least three days later because the responding police officer would be on rest or on an off-day. “If you call to chase (down the case) they tell you ‘we have a lot of pending cases... give us time’. Then, once the aggressor gives his statement, they will call you again and another week passes. Then, you will receive your court letter one to two years later.”

Felice said a restraining order can be issued through a lawyer. “But it’s just a warning. The proper restraining order is issued from the judge months to years later.”