8th March 2017 - International Women's Day
“I’d never spoken to anyone before about the verbal abuse, even my family, but one night when he was especially hurtful I felt so down. I lifted the phone …” (Jean*, 31yrs with two children)
In 2016, COPE Galway answered over 1700 calls to their 24hr helpline from women experiencing domestic abuse. These included crisis calls from women seeking safe accommodation in the refuge as well as return calls from women seeking ongoing support and information.
As well as an immediate need for safety from physical violence, other issues which women sought support around were: emotional and verbal abuse; how to deal with harassment; including digital harassment, concerns for their children, including managing access and support with parenting.
“It’s important for women to know that their call is confidential and that they can remain anonymous if they wish. Women are not always ready to take action when they first start to talk about what is happening but with the right support they can reach a place where they are clearer about the abuse. Talking a situation through can help them to decide in their own time what they want to do and what is right for them”, says Wendy Heuston from COPE Galway Waterside House, which provides a service to women experiencing domestic abuse in Galway City and County.
International Women’s Day (8th March 2017) offers an opportunity this week to look at what has improved for women over the last year as well as what still needs to be addressed. A new upcoming Domestic Violence Bill contains many positives for those experiencing domestic violence including improved access to emergency Barring Orders and Safety Orders; the option to give evidence by video link where there is severe intimidation; extra support during the court process and the inclusion of digital harassment as a crime. However, the Bill will only as good as the institutions and supports which underpin it.
“The response women get when they first disclose, whether it’s to a support service, the Gardaí, the court service, or even the Housing or Social Welfare departments is critical and can have a big influence on whether they go on to seek further support. It’s vital that women are validated, reassured and given information on their options so that they can make an informed decision for themselves and their children”, says Wendy Heuston.
“Lifting the phone was the first step which has led to myself and the children being in a happier place today. It was a long process and not always an easy one. I was stuck and didn’t know how to move on. The staff member in Waterside helped me to see things more clearly and name the abuse for what it was...” (Jean*)
For free, confidential support contact COPE Galway Waterside House at 091-565985
*not her real name
For further information contact:
Wendy Heuston, COPE Galway Waterside House Tel: 091 565 985
Note to Editor:
COPE Galway Waterside House is the only 24 hour accessible refuge in the Western region. It provides refuge accommodation, information, support and court accompaniment to women and their children experiencing domestic violence. There is an Outreach service for women in the city and county who are in abusive relationships and who need support and information on their options. In 2016, COPE Galway Waterside House worked with 314 individual women & their 158 children experiencing Domestic Violence. The service provided 720 outreach appointments, 161 court accompaniments and answered 1709 support and crisis calls. Due to lack of space, the service was unable to accommodate 204 women with 246 children who requested refuge 249 times.
- Published in Press Releases