Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, speaking in light of the conviction and sentencing of man for attacking his ex-girlfriend. Click here for details.
"Every aspect of the case resolved today is deeply disturbing. The horrific violence inflicted on this woman, in front of her very young children, shows just how dangerous domestic abusers are. Every day we respond to 44 calls on our 24hr National Freephone Helpline. During these contacts women reveal the horrific abuse by their boyfriends, partners and husbands and the impact on their emotional and physical well-being. Women are left with broken bones and teeth, bruising, head injuries and internal injuries as a result of rape. Some women experience miscarriage because of an assault while others were experiencing post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and exhaustion.
Domestic violence is a crime that affects one in five women in Ireland at some point her life. It is a common crime but one that is very often minimised and ignored. This is a very dangerous and hidden reality for women in our families, in our workplaces and in our communities and the cases that we do hear about in our courts, in the media and on our National Helpline are only the tip of the iceberg. Silence perpetuates abuse and most abusers never have to answer for their crimes.
What is important to remember is that domestic violence is a deliberate and intended behaviour rather than the consequence of stress, individual pathology, substance use or a 'dysfunctional' or ‘tempestuous’ relationship. Domestic violence is about gaining control, not losing it. And there is never an excuse.
We need to see appropriate sentencing and sanction for violence against women, both to bring justice for victims and to act as a deterrent. Indeed the fact that the perpetrator is a current or former intimate partner should be seen as an aggravating factor rather than a mitigating one. The Judiciary and other legal professionals should be trained in understanding the dynamics of domestic violence. Women’s Aid also believes that there should be sentencing guidelines for domestic violence cases to support the Courts as they pass judgement. Domestic violence perpetrators are extremely dangerous and we believe that we need to start talking about how these people are monitored after they serve sentences so that we protect women and society from further harm.
Domestic violence kills women, it kills children too. It must be treated as a serious crime & perpetrators must be sanctioned appropriately. Until we do, women will remain at risk and afraid to speak up.
We are deeply concerned for other women who are living with horrendous levels of violence and the threat of abuse who see this case and feel that there is no justice. We encourage anyone who is experiencing any form of abuse to call our 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 or visit our website www.WomensAid.ie."
For further information, please contact Christina Sherlock on 087 9192457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org