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All will not be calm and bright in many homes this Christmas

 

 

 

According to Women’s Aid, the charity received nearly 20,000 calls to its helpline last year, meaning an unacceptable and worrying amount of women and children are still experiencing domestic violence and abuse in this country. Many of those unfortunate people are living among us in Roscommon.

  Therefore, with the launch of the 16 Days of Action campaign, which began last Monday, running to December 10th, I’d like to acknowledge those brave survivors who managed to break free from their abusers. Importantly, I’d like to show solidarity with those courageous women who, for whatever reason, are unable to escape and are still suffering at the hands of a coward. My heart goes out to you and your children.

  Now, as someone who was raised in an extremely violent environment, I can tell you that for a child, waking up each day in an unpredictable, tension-filled house, (I refuse to call it a home because it’s not), dominated by terror and fear, can lead to psychological trauma that can remain for decades.

  In fact the abusive environment was the reason I ran off and got married at 17! It’s also the reason I’m the ultimate worrier, always apprehensive about the future, always trying to predict what may happen.  

  However, let me make it abundantly clear, and this is important…it was not my darling, gentle, hard-working, teetotal and loving dad who was the abusive one; rather it was my street-angel, house-devil mother who made both his and my life a living hell. Indeed, throw alcohol and Christmas into the mix, and we became hostages in the hands of a neurotic bully. 

  Now it’s my belief that domestic violence can often occur as a result of learned behaviours.  However, I know it’s also a configuration of a deep-rooted coercive controlling desire living inside the contorted mind of a bitter and warped tyrant, whose goal it is to intimidate and humiliate their victims. I’d even suggest that abusers who hide behind the pathetic drink and drugs defence, (choosing to use them as a convenient excuse), are cowardly, unhinged losers ridding themselves of taking responsibility for their own actions. 

  Indeed, most abusers don’t need alcohol to mistreat people; they’re perfectly nasty pieces of work when stone-cold sober. But hey, if they can place the blame on something else, then they can mask their disgusting oppressive nature, thus minimising the damage they’ve caused in their own minds.

  I adore my dad, he is, and always will remain my first love, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have a fantastic relationship with him and my step-mother.

  In addition, I’m now married to a man who’s not only extremely protective of me; he’s respectful, and importantly, he understands my need, (he’d say compulsion), to rescue and help those who’re vulnerable. Regular readers know this includes animals.

  My reason for sharing my own experience of domestic violence as a child is to show that (while statistically it’s women who’re more likely to become victims), some men do experience abuse.

  In the run-up to Christmas, please readers, be aware of what is happening to many Irish women/men/children in their own homes.

  Due to the close relationship between the abuser and their victim, domestic violent situations can be complex issues. 

  Therefore, if anyone believes that a family member/friend/neighbour is suffering at the hands of a controlling despot, (and if there are kiddies in the mix; they’re also traumatised), then please, this week, do what you can to help. Perhaps begin by inviting them for a coffee and calmly and non-judgementally, voice your concerns. Be supportive and never force the conversation. Remember your pal is finding it extremely difficult to talk about their situation. It’s important you don’t actually tell them they’re in an abusive relationship, rather you might gently mention specific incidents you’ve noticed yourself, and ask how those situations make them feel? Take your cues from their response. Your objective is to help your pal to understand that things aren’t quite right, so please acknowledge their circumstances and reassure them that there’s support available.

  My mother passed away in September, and, while her death opened a massive Pandora’s Box regarding her violent behaviour towards me and my dad, I’ve managed to reconcile with the fact I cannot grieve for her. But that’s fine; how can I be expected to feel the loss of a mother I never had? Indeed, if I am shedding tears readers, they’re for the loss of the childhood she denied me.

  For local support regarding domestic violence/abuse contact Roscommon Safe Link on 071-9664200. There’s also a 24-hour national helpline on Freephone 1800-341900.

 

It’s about time GAA honoured Bloody Sunday victims!

 

On 21st November 1920, British forces rolled into Croke Park, (during a match between my native Dublin and Tipperary), opened fire, and murdered 14 innocent people, injuring many others.

  Last Thursday, on what was the 99th anniversary of this atrocity, the final three unmarked graves of the victims were embellished with headstones. As a proud Irish woman I’m glad that finally, for those entirely blameless souls, common sense has prevailed. Instead of their memories being submerged under petty politics, they’ve now been rightfully honoured as human beings, as family members and as innocents who went to a match and never came home.

  Indeed, it has always been my opinion that while it suited certain bodies to mythologise and utilise this act of savagery when promoting themselves as being significant players in our fight for independence and Irish nationalism, they never saw fit to rightfully acknowledge any of these victims.

  With next year’s centenary on the horizon, I’d like to specifically mention little 10-year-old Jerome O’Leary, (the youngest victim of this act of brutality). That poor kid who was mercilessly shot dead as he sat on top of a wall came from Blessington Street, where I was born and raised. And, as apparently no family members could be found to remember him at the ceremony, the GAA stood in (not before time!).

  And, as Jerome lived where I once lived, this child’s death kind of had a seismic impact on me, and I can only imagine the level of devastation, the sorrow and the suffering visited upon his poor mother on that day. May all who lost their lives ar Domhnach na Fola finally get to rest in peace.

 

Keep the money local!

It’s Black Friday folks, and, as Brexit and online shopping can negatively affect independent businesses, do please remember to shop locally and keep our fabulously festive Roscommon strong!

 

 

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