Today, Tuesday 25th November 2014, at 11am, Women’s Aid is leading a nationwide campaign in solidarity with the one in five women in Ireland who experience domestic abuse. The events mark the International Day Opposing Violence against Women and the start of the One in Five Women campaign. Over 130 organisations are taking part in Ireland to stand with abused women and children and in support of the all of the local organisations who work to support those affected by domestic abuse.
At the launch of the campaign, Women’s Aid is highlighting the fact that one in every five women living in Ireland today experience abuse by their current or former boyfriends, husbands and partners. Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says, “Women are living in fear in every village, town and city in Ireland. All too often women feel too alone and isolated, unaware that help is available. Our nationwide Balloon Action is a visible and strong statement of solidarity which we hope will help women find their voice so they don’t have to suffer domestic abuse in silence. For most of us, home is a place of respect, love and safety. However, for many women, home means violence, fear and terror. The forms of domestic violence include emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The effects of the abuse on women cannot be understated and should not be minimised or downplayed. Women are trapped with very few options to leave.”
Ms Martin continues, “Women are beaten, hospitalised and can have ongoing and long-term physical and mental health issues. Women are raped, sexually abused and have no freedom to negotiate a safe and respectful sexual relationship. Women are isolated from supports and from family and friends.”
Today is also a day to focus on the perpetrators of abuse, the men from all levels of society that inflict such pain and despair on their partners and children. Ms Martin explains, “Often the men who abuse women are absent or excused when we talk about addressing domestic violence. The focus and responsibility for the abuse is unfairly placed on women who are struggling to survive. In our 40 years’ experience as a national support organisation for women experiencing domestic violence, we know that abusive men use a wide range of manipulative tactics and severe physical and sexual abuse in order to gain and maintain power and control over women. These tactics are insidious, harmful and very hard to identify by the women on the receiving end. Quite often it is only when the woman is free from abuse that she is able to look back and see a complex and repeated pattern of coercive control and abuse emerge.”
Women’s Aid believes that society must challenge men’s violence and abuse against women on every level. Ms Martin says, “Last week Women’s Aid called attention to the most starkest side of domestic violence as we stood outside the Dáil to remember 78 women murdered by their partners or ex-partners since our records began in 1996. The challenge for society is to treat the crime of domestic abuse as seriously as it deserves. Women tell us of inconsistent responses by State institutions and agencies such as the Courts and Gardaí. These experiences were supported by the recent Garda Inspectorate Report into Crime Investigation which, despite highlighting cases of individual good practice, showed up very serious gaps in the official response to domestic abuse cases. We welcome the recommendations made by the Garda Inspectorate that call for increased recognition of domestic violence as a serious, high volume and recidivist crime and one that merits a multi-agency response to ensure the safety of vulnerable women and children.
The Women’s Aid One in Five Women Campaign runs from 25th November to 10th December and is a part of the International 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women. Visit www.womensaid.ie/16days for more information.
Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week. www.womensaid.ie
For further information contact Christina Sherlock on 01-678 8858 or 087 919 2457.
Notes to editors/producers: