WOMEN’S LIVES: Tackling domestic abuse

Finola Brennan


Finola Brennan

WOMEN’S LIVES: Tackling domestic abuse
The MAN UP is a global campaign to end violence against women and children.

The MAN UP is a global campaign to end violence against women and children.

It was originally founded in 2009 in America by Jimmie Briggs, lecturer and educator, and respected human rights advocate in the field of journalism. For the past three years Safe Ireland have been highlighting nationally the positive role men can play in ending domestic abuse.

In 2012 NCCWN- Donegal Women’s Network (NCCWN- DWN) invited Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) to lead out on the MAN UP Campaign in support of the Charter for Women’s Equality.

Since then, Donegal Local Development Company in collaboration with Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence (DWDVS), Donegal Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre (DSARCC), Letterkenny Women’s Centre (LWC), The Irish Country Women’s Association (ICA) and NCCCWN - Donegal Women’s Network has worked to ensure that men and women, boys and girls in Donegal are becoming more aware of the issue and are lending their support to end domestic abuse in Donegal.

At the time of the 2014 Local Elections NCCWN - Donegal Women’s Network held a number of meetings to determine what the main local and national issues were for women in Donegal. With a recorded increase in domestic and sexual abuse in Donegal during the recession, at a time when essential front line services and supports were being cut, it was agreed that one of the questions to all selected candidates was firstly, ‘Would you sign up to the MAN UP Campaign? Secondly, would you attend training delivered by Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service in 2014?’ All those that responded agreed to both.

Last Friday in the Chamber Rooms of Letterkenny Public Service Centre, Thomas Pringle TD, The Mayor of Donegal County Council, John Campbell and ten other county councillors lent their support to help end domestic abuse in Donegal and to retain and improve vital services.

Fiona Doherty, Manager and Mary Mc Kenna, Team Leader of DWDVS provided the training, which as well as giving an overview of the services and relevant statistics, through use of poetry highlighted powerfully the devastating impact domestic abuse has on women and children. The poems entitled “Perception”, “A Very Important Person”, “Justice I Don’t Think So” and “Christmas Fear” are based on the stories of the families who have come through the Service.

Fiona Doherty referred to the Garda Inspectorate Report and the one shocking statistic that stood out for her, that of the 11,000 domestic violence incident reports, only 287 arrests had been made.

Mary McKenna spoke of the importance of how a woman is heard and treated when she first discloses abuse is crucial towards whether that women continues to seek help or not.

Fiona Doherty outlined how “There was a time when we participated in Garda in-service training. Every Garda in Donegal would have received this Domestic Violence awareness.

“Over the last number of years this training has not occurred. The fact that Judges do not receive training on the dynamics of Domestic Violence was seen by all in attendance as an appalling omission which should be urgently challenged. DWDVS feel this training to the judiciary would be highly beneficial. Another harrowing fact is the realisation that children who experience domestic abuse can be affected by it well into adulthood and that the legal system set up to protect them can fail them.

“The many complex issues of social housing, habitual residence, the attitudes of various professionals, the need to have a more cohesive and integrated approach making the safety of the child paramount, all need to be improved.”

At the end of the session everyone felt it had been a very valuable morning, ‘a real eye opener’ as described by one participant. Many said that they were very glad they came and would do all they could to support the Service.

Some of the quotes from the training: “Training very beneficial and informative”;

“A great opportunity to have queries answered”; “Emotional, frank and professional”; “Over exceeded my expectations”; “Excellent, would like more in future”

At least sixteen other TD’s and councillors have signed up to avail of this training on another date. I hope that politicians in other counties will follow the lead of our TD’s and county councillors here in Donegal.

DWDVS 24hr HELPLINE 1800262677