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Vodafone Ireland Foundation has announced the launch of Bright Sky Ireland, a free app that connects victims of domestic violence and abuse to support services across Ireland.

This app is the latest addition to Vodafone Foundation’s domestic violence project, which uses connectivity to help support those affected by domestic abuse here and across Europe.

Bright Sky Ireland is created with the UK-based domestic abuse charity Hestia, along with Women’s Aid Ireland and An Garda Síochána.

So how does it work?

Users can locate their nearest support center by searching their area, eircode or current location. 

They will also have to fill out a short questionnaire that will help them assess the safety of a relationship while also providing information about different forms of abuse such as sexual violence, stalking, and harassment.

The app also highlights the types of supports available, steps to consider if leaving an abusive relationship and how to help a friend affected by domestic abuse.

As well as all of that, the app contains a ground-breaking feature designed to log incidents of domestic abuse without any content being saved on the device itself.

It works by allowing users to send information about incidents in a secure digital journal, using a text, audio, video or photo function.

Evidence collated through this function will enable Gardaí to intervene and can help secure prosecutions.

According to Vodafone Foundation, statistics regarding domestic abuse are terrifying – 31% of Irish workers have experienced some form of domestic abuse while  63% experienced psychological abuse and control.

Also, 47% experienced physical violence, 23% experienced sexual violence or abuse and 19% experienced stalking. 

Sarah Benson, Executive Director of Women’s Aid said, ''A very important feature of the app is the myth-busting information as well as quiz to help people recognise the signs of abuse.''

She continued, ''However, our biggest hope is that the ability to log incidents of abuse whether it’s photos, text notes or recordings, will help women experiencing abuse gather the pattern of evidence they need to avail of legal protection and secure convictions of the new crime of coercive control.”

This is fantastic news and we hope women in need will avail of this service. 

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Danish band Lukas Graham have landed in hot water after covering the late rapper XXXTenacion's song SAD!, claiming to have no knowledge of his violent past.

The track was covered as a stripped-down version for the Spotify Singles series, and now the lead singer Lukas Forchammer has stated that the song will be removed from streaming services.

He posted a now-deleted statement to Instagram, writing; “Our cover of ‘SAD!’ will be taken down ASAP. I had no knowledge of his violent history. I’m very sorry for the pain I’ve caused. Again, I’m very sorry.”

The band allegedly had no clue about the deceased rap artist's controversial history with the law.

At the time of his death back in 2016, he was facing trial for a number of charges including false imprisonment and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman.

The band's apology referenced XXX's domestic abuse charges from October 2016, after he was shot and killed in June of that year.

The 20-year-old's multi-platinum-selling posthumous album ? has been boosted and featured by a number of famous hip-hop and rap artists.

The rapper confessed to “f*cking up” his ex-girlfriend, in addition to a number of other violent crimes in a secret video which was made public after his death.

Real name Jahseh Onfroy said in an interview with the podcast No Jumper that he nearly killed his gay prison inmate who was staring at him. He laughed throughout the interview, showing no remorse.

"I was going crazy,” he told the interviewer. “I smear his blood on my face, on my hands. I got it, like, in my nails. I got it all over me. I was going f*cking crazy.”

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From January 1, 2019, the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act 2018 will commence.

The new act includes important measures such as the extension for eligibility for safety orders to young women who experience abuse in dating relationships; recognition of an intimate relationship as an aggravating factor in domestic violence cases and the crime of coercive control.

According to Women's Aid, the national domestic violence frontline support organisation, ‘Out-of-Hours’ Special Sittings will be allowed by the District Courts to provide for orders in emergency situations and the prohibition of electronic communication with victims.

The new provisions also include important steps to make it easier for those affected by domestic abuse to avail of the court system and link in with specialist support services.

 

Women’s Aid will monitor the impact of the provision to treat the intimate relationship between the abuser and his victim as an aggravating factor through its ongoing Sentencing Watch project with a report due in September 2019.

According to Women’s Aid research, one in five women in Ireland has experienced emotional, sexual, physical and financial abuse from a current or former intimate partner in her lifetime.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid, explained how important this milestone is for domestic abuse survivors in Ireland: “From 1st January 2019, women must feel change quickly. It must be positive, it must be practical and it must make them and their children safer from abuse.

“What is promised on paper must be fully resourced to be effective in protecting those affected by domestic violence. We are concerned that an already over-stretched system will see an increase in demand when the new provisions commence.  

The act will also extend the eligibility for access to Safety and Protection Orders to those in intimate relationships who have never lived with their boyfriends.

“This change will make a significant difference to the safety of younger women," Martin continued. "We also welcome the move to prevent abusers to communicate electronically with their victims, a step in the right direction to address the digital abuse and online harassment of women by partners and exes.”

Women’s Aid welcomes the inclusion of the relationship between defendant and victim as an aggravating circumstance in relevant offences.

“This change must bring about better sanctioning for domestic violence perpetrators and contribute to an increased sense of justice for women," explained Martin.

"Our figures showing that intimate partners are sentenced, on average, to three years less prison time compared to other men convicted of killing women, suggesting that an intimate relationship is seen as a mitigating rather than an aggravating factor. The Women’s Aid Sentencing Watch will monitor whether the change is seen in the decision making of the Courts.”

“Our Impact Report for 2017 highlighted the level of domestic violence in Irish society and the impact of poorly resourced, inappropriate and inconsistent responses from the State have on women and children struggling against the odds.

“Women experiencing domestic violence deserve a system that supports and protects them as they move themselves and their children to safety.”

According to Women’s Aid research, one in five women in Ireland has experienced emotional, sexual, physical and financial abuse from a current or former intimate partner in her lifetime.

The charity organisation also provides a free, national, domestic violence 24hr helpline at 1-800-341-900 with specialised trained staff & volunteers.

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Contrary to belief, domestic and dating abuse is common – and we all know someone who has experienced an abusive relationship in some form.

Whether or not you've been directly impacted by an ex or current partner who's behaviour is unacceptable – know you aren't alone and there is help out there.

Women's Aid has launched a new campaign to highlight their services and support available to any woman experiencing domestic violence and dating abuse.

The campaign comes as a new Domestic Violence Act provision, extending eligibility to young women in dating relationships, has still not commenced.

Image credit: Women's Aid

The woman's charity says it is continuing to support young women on its 24hr National Freephone Helpline and One to One Services who are being left unprotected and at risk because of these legal delays.

The awareness campaign #TooIntoYou aims to reach 18-25 years old women, to highlight the warning signs of abusive and controlling behaviour in their intimate relationships.

Women's aid want to get the nation talking about the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

In campaign, we meet eight characters, ‘Snooping Simon’, ‘Controlling Conor’, ‘Send Nudes Niall’, ‘Needy Neil’, ‘Dramatic Dan’, ’10 missed calls Ben’ and ‘Triple Text Thomas’ and ‘Why don’t you love me, Luke’.

Each of them reflects real situations we have all found ourselves in and it highlights the harmful ways that we could encounter dating abuse from our boyfriends or exes.

To get the conversation flowing about the issue of violence against women, a 70ft banner has been hung at Liberty Hall for three weeks, in the heart of Dublin. 

Image credit: Women's Aid

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid explained why there is such a crucial need for this campaign.

“Dating abuse is a significant issue for our frontline support services and research has shown that while young women can be at even higher risk of abuse in a relationship than their older counterparts, it can be difficult for young women to see what is happening to them as abuse," she said.

"However, 39 percent of young women (aged 18-29) in Ireland have experienced emotional abuse by a boyfriend or partner and in a national survey on domestic abuse in Ireland, almost 60 percent of those who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships first experienced it when they were under the age of 25."

"A stark reminder of this risk is that one in every two women, aged between 18-25, killed in Ireland since 1996 were murdered by their boyfriends or exes,” she added. 

One of the leading voices behind the #TooIntoYou campaign is entrepreneur Norah Casey. Norah sees the campaign as an important measure to prevent abuse and relates her own experience of domestic violence at the hands of her first husband in her 20s.

Norah says: “This campaign is a shout out to young women everywhere about some of those early signs that a relationship might not be good for them. Help us to spread the word far and wide, every woman should know the signs."

"Prevention is far better than the consequences, tragically sometimes fatal, for women who are trapped in abusive and violent relationships.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, authors of Oh My God What a Complete Aisling are backing the campaign and spoke about including the issue of dating and domestic abuse in their latest book:

“While researching The Importance of Being Aisling we were shocked to discover just how prevalent dating abuse is in Ireland. No one deserves to feel unsafe or threatened in their relationship and it’s absolutely vital that women can spot the red flags early on. We fully support Women’s Aid’s #TooIntoYou campaign and hope that it will help those affected find the support they need to become safe.”

If you are anxious or worried about your relationship, Ms Martin says you aren't alone in feeling something isn't right in your relationship, and highlights some of the signs that indicates you're facing potential abuse. 

“Women in dating relationships contact Women's Aid every day because they are afraid of their boyfriends. Your boyfriend does not have the right to control and abuse you. You should not have to worry about how he will react to what you do."

"You may feel like you are 'walking on eggshells' and living in fear of his moods and temper. Dating abuse is wrong and no one deserves to be threatened, beaten or be in fear for their lives. We want women to know that they can speak to someone in confidence on our 24hr National Freephone Helpline (1800 341 900) to help make sense of what’s going on in their relationship,” she added. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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If you're experiencing any type of abuse at the hands of your partner, there are people here to help and there is hope of getting out of the situation. 

The Women’s Aid 24 hour National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 is available seven days a week. 

You can find more information about the new campaign here.

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With the first Women’s Aid Purple Run 5k set to take place on September 25th in Dublin, domestic violence survivor Jessica Bowes has called for women to come out and support the cause. 

Jessica, who will be joining Bláthnaid Treacy for the run, has spoken out about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-partner and she is urging others to help raise funds for the charity’s 24hr National Freephone Helpline.

Women’s Aid, the national charity supporting women and children affected by domestic violence in Ireland is launching the first-ever Purple Run to raise those much-need funds – so where will this brilliant event take place?

The starting line will be on Tuesday 25th September 2018 at 7.30pm on Sandymount Strand, Dublin 4 (Sean Moore Park end).

This is such an important event to put your support behind as Women’s Aid do amazing work, responding to, on average, 50 calls a day from women experiencing emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse from their partners, husbands, and boyfriends.

Abuse survivor Jessica, a Dublin mum of three children, wants people to come out and support this cause.

“Since I spoke out on Prime Time in February this year, lots of women have reached out to me and some of them are coming to run with me on the day. The run for me represents where so many women are on their own journeys escaping domestic violence. Some women can run others can’t but with the right people supporting you we can all get to the finish line!” she said. 

If you want to join in, you can sign up at www.womensaid.ie/purplerun for €25 per person (includes a free t-shirt and raffle entry).

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Last night, the Domestic Violence Bill passed its final stages in the Dáil, putting in place important measures that will aid victims of psychological abuse. 

This move follows a recent report from Women's Aid that they received 10,281 disclosures of emotional abuse during 2017. 

In order to help the victims of such abuse, some of this law's key measures include improving courts access for victims and criminalising controlling behaviour. The bill still has to go back to the Seanad before the President can sign it into law.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says that the Domestic Violence Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by the Oireachtas in 2018.

"The new offence of coercive control sends a clear consistent message that non-violent control in an intimate relationship is criminal," he told BreakingNews.ie.

"The effect of such behaviour may be as harmful to victims as physical abuse because it's an abuse of the unique trust associated with intimate relationships."

Women's Aid Director Margaret Martin commended the passing of the new legislation, and the light it sheds on the fact that abuse goes beyond the physical.

"It's really important that there is move away to understand that domestic violence actually includes so many different forms – whether it's physical, emotional, sexual or financial," she noted.

"An awful lot of people, they may never be physically abused but they may live with the high level of fear and threat and control and I think it's great to see that that's now going to be an offence."

Fianna Fail TD Jim O'Callaghan says that this is also a teaching moment, and more needs to be done to educate young men on how abusing women is unacceptable.

"The only way we are going to be able to resolve the problem and ensure that domestic violence is reduced is through a legislative response – we have that here, but also we need further responses," he observed.

"We need in particular to be able to educate and inform young men of the unacceptability of using violence against women."

We are heartened to hear that the Domestic Violence Bill will help victims of abuse receive the protection and support they need.

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A restaurant in Belfast has issued an apology after a sign promoting their lunch-time deal was the subject of intense criticism in recent days.

Ribs and Bibs on Botanic Avenue promoted their £5 lunch with a distasteful reference to domestic abuse in a move which has understandably caused a furore on various social media channels in recent days.

"Ya can beat the wife, but ya can't beat a 5 pound lunch" read the controversial sign.

Members of the public who came across it wasted no time urging the restaurant to explain itself, with one social media user writing: "Why does ribs and bibs on botanic avenue think this sign is ok? Its horrific and makes light of an issue that's killing people."

 

A post on the restaurant's Facebook page suggested that they were refusing to take the public's distress seriously, with their reply only serving to further raise the ire of social media users.

"My God mate, get a life, it's a bit of wit on a small board outside a restaurant, we're not putting it on the front page of a newspaper, not making a move, see it for what it is, not as you see it," Ribs and Bibs wrote in a Facebook reply.

However, as criticism surrounding the promotion intensified, Ribs and Bibs issued a formal statement, and claimed that the individual responsible for creating the sign was new to the team.

"We do not condone abuse on men or women and the member of staff has only been working with us a couple of weeks and was on shift today by himself."

"We are dealing with it and would like to apologise for any offence caused and it will be dealt with by the management team."

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By the time the first hit came, I was already a shell of a person. When you see the psychological signs, don’t ignore them. When it feels wrong, it is wrong.”

One in five women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and unfortunately that number is on the rise. RTÉ are confronting the reality of domestic abuse in revealing new online documentary series – UPFRONT: Domestic Abuse. 

The two part documentary follows RTÉ reporter, Della Kilroy, as she talks to the women behind the statistics.

The series delves into the many forms of domestic abuse, from physical, emotional to sexual and financial. It also shows the various support option available to those who think they might be in an abusive relationship.

What's more, UPRONT: Domestic Abuse will feature an interview with a perpetrator who is currently enrolled in a rehabilitation programme.

Last year, Women's Aid received over 16,000 calls reporting domestic abuse and the charity revealed they have seen a huge increase in the amount of young women coming forward.

As well as that, a 2016 study conducted by the team here at SHEmazing revealed that dating abuse affects one in three women, with 60 per cent believing it was their fault.

Results also showed over half of the 1,000 women surveyed admitted to knowing someone in their immediate circle of friends that had been in an abusive relationship.

Any woman, regardless of age, class or occupation can find themselves in an abusive relationship and in this new online documentary we see business women, students and mothers share their own individual experiences.

Researcher and reporter for the RTÉ Player series UPFRONT, Della Kilroy said: ''You might think you don’t know someone that has been affected by domestic abuse, but research suggests you probably do. One in five women in Ireland will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime.''

''This means that every day in Ireland, women are beaten, raped and even hospitalised leaving ongoing physical and mental health issues. This doesn’t just happen in the home, as evidence points to an increasing number of young women experiencing abuse in dating relationships.''

UPFRONT is available to watch now on RTÉ Player .

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised, please contact:  Women’s Aid freephone 1800 341 900 1800 341 900 or visit  www.womensaid.ie and www.2in2u.ie

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Figures from Women's Aid, Ireland's national domestic support organisation, show that 19,000 contacts were made to the domestic abuse support service in 2016.

As well as reports of domestic abuse, there were nearly 4,000 disclosures of child abuse, according to RTE.

The service launched its extended National Freephone Helpline as a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service in September 2016, and this is the first report since that time. 

96 per cent of callers were women, while 4 per cent were men.

In regards to domestic abuse, the helpline saw a 70 per cent jump in calls logged, with 16,946 disclosures of domestic violence against women noted compared to 9,000 the year previously. 

11,000 of these calls were about emotional abuse, 3,500 were disclosures of assault and almost 700 were reports of rape, according to the report. 

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In a move which Imgur user, KrissyKross, hoped would help bring closure to years of domestic abuse, she shared a series of texts she received from her partner during their marriage.

Now divorced, KrissyKross explains that she kept the screenshots of the messages to remind herself how far she had come, and ultimately decided that she was ready to share her experience online.

"My ex-husband was a kind, loving man. That is, until I lost weight (at 5'3" and over 200lbs, it was sort of necessary.) I then got a job," she wrote on the post.

"Suddenly I was cheating, I lost weight to get men, I couldn't buy clothes that fit me after the 80 pounds lost because it showed off my body."

"He hit me and sexually assaulted me. He waited outside my work for whole shifts, not telling me if he was carrying the Beretta M9 he had purchased recently," she confided.

"I wanted to go out with two (female) coworkers for my 23rd birthday. I told him weeks in advance and when the time came he punched me in the face and slammed my head into the floor, only leaving me alone because he had duty that evening. I tried to go to the police in the middle of the night, he tailgated me the whole way."

"I tried to talk to his parents and they told me it was normal in a young marriage and I should reassure him. His father is a pastor in Tennessee and holds this belief."

KrissyKross explains that her decision to leave came after her husband harmed her pets, writing: "While he was at work I packed a bag, my pets, and their food and hid at a coworker's house and called NCIS and the police."

"I spent hours getting bruises photographed, giving my statement, waiting while they put him on restriction."

Giving Imgur users an insight into the events that followed, KrissyKross wrote: "He was charged with a handful of misdemeanors and two felonies. I accepted his guilty plea bargain for 8 months in the Miramar brig on the condition that the felony charges be dropped. The judge wanted to give him 10."

Thankfully, she is doing well today and reflects on her marriage as a time of growth and courage.

"This isn't really a sob story; I'm really proud of what I've done on my own. I just wanted to share for possibly some closure since I never really got that I save these text messages to remind myself how far I've come, not to cry over."

If you have been affected by this story, you can seek support and assistance from Safe Ireland.

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Mel B’s ex-husband, Stephen Belafonte, has dismissed claims that he physically and emotionally abused the former Spice Girl calling them "outrageous and unfounded".

The Los Angeles Superior Court granted the singer a temporary restraining order earlier this week after she filed documents detailing the extent of the domestic abuse she suffered.

In the papers, Mel claimed that she had suffered ''multiple physical beatings'' and that Stephen had threatened to release intimate videos of her.

According to reports the Spice Girl also claimed that Stephen got their nanny pregnant, forced her to take part in sexual acts with other women, and even stopped her from calling an ambulance when she overdosed on painkillers.

This comes just two weeks after Mel filed for divorce from the film producer after almost 10 years of marriage.

In a statement, representatives from Stephen’s legal team confirmed that he will soon be making an official response to the allegations.

"It's a shame that Ms Brown elected not to proceed in a respectful and amicable fashion in this very private matter."

"In due course, Mr Belafonte will be filing his response to the outrageous and unfounded allegations made by Ms Brown, which allegations he vehemently denies."

The couple, who have been married since 2007 have one daughter, Maddison, together.

Mel have has two other children form previous relationships, 18-year-old Pheonix and 9-year-old Angel. 

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When we think of domestic abuse or violence, we tend to automatically associate it with bruises; but the emotional and psychological aspect of an abusive relationship is just as damaging.

In actual fact, not all cases of domestic abuse involve physical violence, and research has shown that the emotional consequences of an abusive relationship – such as fear, distress and loss of confidence – can, in some instances, be the most damaging.

Indeed, according to a national survey conducted in 2003, both men and women who had endured domestic abuse admitted that the emotional consequences were the ‘worst thing’ about that experience.

And even where physical violence has not yet become a factor in that abuse, the emotional and psychological aspect can be a predictor of a more physical fallout going forward.

So, how do you define emotional or psychological abuse? Cosc (The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence) lists the following examples as characteristic of an abusive relationship:

  • Constant putdowns
  • Humiliating a partner in front of others
  • Hypercriticism
  • Constantly monitoring what their partner is doing
  • Excessive jealousy
  • Accusations of infidelity
  • Belittling accomplishments and goals
  • Use of intimidation or threats to gain compliance
  • Preventing them from seeing their family and friends
  • Threatening to hurt people they care about, and pets
  • Unreasonable demands
  • Threatening to remove access to children
  • Threatening suicide
  • Making their partner question their sanity
  • Emotional manipulation
  • Restricting their partner’s mobility and communications

The focus, from the perpetrator’s point of view, is to exert dominance over their partner, feeling in charge, attacking their self-esteem and isolating them from loved ones who could provide support.

Signs that an individual may be experiencing emotional and psychological domestic abuse

  • They are anxious to please their partner
  • They are afraid of their partner
  • They talk about their partner’s temper, possessiveness or jealousy
  • They are restricted from seeing family and friends
  • They are limited in access to money or a car
  • They are depressed, anxious or suicidal
  • They seem to have very low self-esteem
  • They are acting submissive

 

Signs that an individual may be a perpetrator of emotional and psychological domestic abuse

  • They act excessively jealous of their partner
  • They insult or embarrass their partner in public
  • They yell at/try to intimidate their partner

What to do next:

For a loved one or friend

Your next move is very important; it’s only natural that you want to help, and you can – but you need to handle this sensitive situation very, very carefully.

The first step is to express concern. Look for a private moment when you can have a word with the individual, and begin by asking them if they are OK. Let them know that you are concerned about them, and assure them that you are there if they ever need support or someone to talk to. The important thing here is not to push them if they don’t feel like opening up.

The next step is to assure them that the abuse they are experiencing is not their fault. Use positive, affirming statements such as: ‘No one deserves to be treated this way’ and ‘You are not to blame’.

While you should most definitely offer your support and an ear to talk to, avoid giving advice. What you can do is encourage them to make their own decisions, and provide them with a list of resources. Check out www.whatwouldyoudo.ie for reference and advice.

For a stranger

The situation can be slightly different if you suspect or witness abuse between strangers. If you have decided that a situation requires an intervention, and you are happy that it is safe to do so, Cosc (The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence) advises that you follow the ‘three D’ formula: Distract, Delegate, and Direct.

Distract

The goal here is to prevent the situation from getting worse, or to buy enough time to check in with the potential victim. An example of distraction is to ask for directions. This way, you could potentially distract the person about to commit violence, or get a moment alone to ask the victim if there is a problem.

Delegate

Do you know a friend of the victim who could help? If so, have a word with them and express your concern. If there is no one nearby who is close to the victim, and you feel the situation doesn’t call for Garda involvement, look for someone who might be in a better position than you to get involved – for example, a bouncer.

Direct

This involves approaching either the potential victim or potential abuser, and intervening yourself. Remember that you are putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, so it’s best to make your actions subtle: use body language to express disapproval, and make your concern known by keeping an eye on the situation. If you choose a direct approach, express your concern with a statement like, ‘I’m concerned about what just happened? Is anything wrong?’

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COSC

Over 300,000 people in Ireland have been severely abused by a partner at some point in their lives. If you have witnessed or experienced domestic violence/abusive behaviour by a partner, or you are concerned you have abused someone, you can prevent it from happening again.

For more information, simply follow this link.

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