Sunday 25th November 2018: Women’s Aid, the national frontline organisation supporting women experiencing domestic violence, today starts its annual 16 Days of Action campaign. The campaign which includes a new #BelieveSurvivors purple awareness raising ribbon starts on the UN Day Opposing Violence against Women and runs up to the 10th December which is International Human Rights Day. Women’s Aid and over 100 organisations, groups and individual around the country are highlighting domestic violence through a series of awareness raising and information sharing events. The courage and activism of all the organisations and individuals lending their voice to the campaign is essential in breaking the silence and in supporting women to reach out for the help they need and deserve. Women’s Aid is honoured at this time of year, to engage in this collective conversation opposing violence against women and to break down the isolation within which such violence thrives.
Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid, says:
“Now, more than ever, women experiencing domestic, dating and sexual abuse need our support and need to know that we believe them. Every day in Ireland women are beaten, raped and abused by those closest to them - their boyfriends, husbands and partners. One in five women in the Republic of Ireland experience domestic violence and it can affect any woman from any walk of life. We understand how difficult it is for women experiencing domestic abuse to talk about what is happening. Many women are afraid that they will not be believed or that they will blamed for the abuse. Others struggle to find the words to describe their situation. All too often, women feel alone and isolated, unaware that help is available or unable to make sense of what is being done to them. Our #BelieveSurvivors campaign allow us all to show solidarity and support to women living with abuse and to send a strong message that domestic violence is not acceptable in our society.”
Ms Martin continues:
“The sort of abuse disclosed to Women’s Aid by women using our 24hr National Freephone Helpline is never okay. A common reaction to a woman speaking about her experience of domestic violence is to focus on her credibility, her actions and her behaviour. Society analyses and judges her choices. Unhelpful speculation can include suggestions that she is lying or that her actions may have provoked the abuse. This is typical of a ‘victim blaming’ mentality which focuses on the behaviour of the woman, rather than the perpetrator of the abuse. Blaming is something that abusers will often do to make excuses for their behaviour. This is part of the pattern of abuse. Sometimes abusers manage to convince their victims that they are to blame for the abuse.”
According to Women’s Aid this victim-blaming mentality plays into the perpetrator’s hands as it reinforces what he has been telling her all along. That it something about her, not him, that has caused the abuse. This victim-blaming culture makes it more difficult for women to get help and removes any responsibility from the abuser. Many women who ring the organisation talk about the importance and the relief of being believed.
Ms Martin concludes:
“This is a very dangerous and hidden reality for women in our families, our workplaces and our communities. 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. They can remain the pillars of the community, the dedicated family men, the Hollywood star or sporting legend. And even when his behaviour is made public the first reaction is not to sanction his abuse, but to excuse his behaviour and to understand ‘what made him do it?’
The challenge for society is to treat the crime of domestic abuse as seriously as it deserves and place the responsibility solely at the hands of the perpetrator. Until we do, women will remain at risk and afraid to speak up.
For more information contact Christina Sherlock on 0879192457 or email email@example.com.
24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 www.womensaid.ie
Notes to editors/producers: