Women's Aid today launched a fundraising appeal in aid of its National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900. The appeal, which hopes to raise much needed funds for the national charity, will help the organisation provide free and confidential support to the one in five women experiencing domestic violence in Ireland. Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, said that the organisation is operating as best it can in difficult financial circumstances. Ms Martin said, "Women's Aid is dedicated to answering as many calls from women experiencing domestic violence as we can. Every single call matters. But funding cuts and a drop in fundraising means that our vital services are under severe pressure. We are launching this appeal to raise much needed funds for our National Helpline."
The letter appeal features *Kate's experience of emotional, physical and financial abuse from her partner which kept her imprisoned in her own home for 10 years. When she first met Mark he was very affectionate. He put her on a pedestal, saying 'Oh, I adore you' and 'I've never felt like this'. He made her feel really, really special. And in her own words, she 'fell for it hook, line and sinker.' Over the next few months he started to change, but it was very subtle. He began to tell her what to wear and what to do. He started to isolate her from her family and friends. He was controlling every aspect of her life including how much money she had to spend. How she should behave at home and out of the house.
But according to Kate, "As soon as we were married, things got really bad. He'd stop me going out of the house. Sometimes he'd lock me in. None of my friends would come round, and I wasn't allowed out on my own. I had no social life. I started to go in on myself. He became very physical too. He would put his arms around my throat and drag me. Or push me up against a wall. Sometimes he'd choke me or shake me, or bang my head against the wall. He'd pin me against the wall with one arm and put his face right up to me and be shouting. I'm five foot three and he's six foot so it was quite intimidating. He left bruises all over me, but he never punched me. So in his mind it wasn't violence, it was just him reacting to something he thought I'd done wrong."
Kate's husband blamed her for the abuse and Kate believed him. Kate endured this abuse for 10 years including during her pregnancy and birth of her daughter. Things had gotten so bad that Kate felt so worn down and so isolated that she tried to take her own life. Fortunately she didn't succeed. But it was a turning point. A very kind nurse gave her a card with the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline on it and Kate began to call us on a regular basis. Gradually she began to open up about all the things she'd been experiencing. This is why our Helpline is so vital to women trapped in abusive relationships. It's so much easier to open up and speak to a voice on the other end of a phone. We listen to their stories and we offer support. We explore options, we help develop safety plans and we never judge. We help women see that they are the victims of abuse and that they are not alone. That it's not their fault. And that a future free from their pain and fear is possible.
Ms Martin continued, "Even though Kate's story is unique to her, the terrible truth is that we take calls from women like Kate every day. The women we speak to are too frightened, confused and feel terribly alone."
Ms Martin concluded, "The volunteers and staff on our National Freephone Helpline hear far too many stories of seemingly perfect relationships that turn bad. And that's why we need support so badly. When women call us we listen to them. We offer support, information and encouragement to help keep them safe. We help find them refuge, we accompany them to court. We help build new lives, in new homes, where they and their children can be safe."
We urgently need support and we hope that, despite the very difficult economic circumstances, people can donate to the Women's Aid Christmas Helpline Appeal today by logging on to www.womensaid.ie/donate or calling 01-678 8858.
The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, open from 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
For more information contact Christina Sherlock or Laura Shehan on 087 919 2457 or 01-678 8858
Notes to Editors