Savaii Mother Struck by Husband with Machete Escapes Death

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14 July 2021 Apia Samoa. A mother from Savaii who was struck by her husband with a machete over the weekend is being treated at the Motootua National Hospital.

According to Police, the incident was reported on Saturday morning when the woman in her 30s was admitted to Tuasivi district hospital in Savaii.

She was then transferred to Motootua National Hospital where she continues to be treated for injuries to her arm, which she had held up in an attempt to shield herself from the  blow.

Police confirm the woman’s husband has been charged with attempted murder and is being remanded in custody.

A Court date for the perpetrator’s first appearance, however, is not known as the Supreme Court of Samoa has been on hold for all other matters as the Court prioritises electoral petitions and cases relating to Samoa’s political crisis.

A 2018 National Survey on Family Violence in Samoa conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman’s Human Rights Institute found that 86% of Samoan women were subjected to kicking, punching, slapping, or otherwise being physically harmed by their intimate partners, with many using a hard object such as rock, stick, trunk or hose.

The same report found that 87% of women in Samoa were exposed to yelling, put-downs or harsh words by their intimate partners, while 24% experienced choking.

The unfortunate incident occurs on the very week that the Minsitry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) had organized a march for women to come together and stand against domestic violence.

There are many societal norms associated with condoning violence against intimate partners including the notion that it is ok for a man to do as he will with his wife, because she is “his”.

Abuse is not just physical, but can also be emotional, psychological or economical.

Research states that a woman would return to her husband or intimate partner on an average of seven times before she leaves him for good, and domestic violence happens in cycles.

Intimate partner violence also affects faafafine in the exact same way as it does women.

Early Warning Signs

It is uncommon for a person to become highly abusive in a relationship straight away, often they will first start trying to gain power over their partner in small, subtle ways. These early warning signs or ‘red flags’ are an indication that a relationship has become unhealthy and could escalate into family violence.

Some common early warning signs of abuse

  • Does your partner try to escalate your relationship quickly by moving in together or getting engaged after only being together for a short time?
  • Does your partner ever speak badly about your family or friends or discourage you from spending time with people you’re close to?
  • Does your partner nit-pick things you do, criticise you, or put you down so you feel bad about yourself?
  • Does your partner ever try to pick fights or gets really angry about small things?
  • Does your partner refuse to take responsibility for things, always blaming you or someone else?
  • Does your partner want to know where you are all the time?
  • Does your partner call or text excessively throughout the day and gets angry if you don’t respond?
  • Does your partner check your phone or social media to see who you’ve been talking to?
  • Does your partner get jealous of other people you see or accuse you of flirting with other people or cheating?
  • Is your partner overly moody, being mean to you one moment and caring and kind the next?
  • Does your partner break or throw objects?
  • Does you partner yell at you aggressively or get in your face?
  • Are you ever scared of your partner?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above elements of your relationship are unhealthy and may develop into a situation of family violence.

I answered yes. What should I do?

Stay safe

The most important thing for you to do is ensure the safety of yourself and your children (if you have any). If you ever feel in danger, try to remove yourself from the vicinity of the abusive person, perhaps by going to a friend, relative or neighbour’s house. Or if you are unable to safely leave, call the police on 22222 or 911.

The Samoa Victim Suport Group Free Calling line is:

Be informed

You may find it helpful to learn a bit more about controlling behaviour and family violence. Another good place to find information is the types of abuse section.


Sina Retzlaff