Purging the putrid infection of domestic violence in Irish families

Breaking the cycle and exposing abusers is the only way to purge the putrid infection that is the brutal, cowardly, sick, perverted thug who somehow gets off on terrorising his/her entire family…

This country is failing victims of domestic violence; that’s according to UCC academic Dr Louise Crowley. Now why am I not surprised? I mean, with a lack of an early intervention system being put in place where abusers could at least address and tackle their appalling and vile behaviour towards vulnerable family members, and with a staggering revelation that, during research carried out with Cork group Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) which aims to support the safety of those experiencing domestic violence, Dr Crowley shockingly discovered that around fifty of the participants involved in the Cork programme had never even made a court appearance, meaning they escaped any form of punishment rendering them freely available and capable of reoffending, again and again and again, if they so choose. This leads me to ask – has domestic abuse reached epidemic proportions in Ireland?

  The sad facts relating to domestic violence in this country were driven home to everyone last Friday during University College Cork’s School of Law’s international conference where it was also revealed by Safe Ireland that, on average, their services receive a crisis call every twelve minutes. Now please just stop and think about that readers…every twelve minutes a woman in this country is in fear for her own life and for that of the lives of her children.  Shocking! Unacceptable! Terrifying!

  Now I don’t know about you folks, but I can do a lot in twelve minutes. In twelve minutes I can re-touch my roots, make myself a coffee and scan the news headlines, I can have a smear test or a mammogram – I mean, it’s probably the length of an episode of ‘Modern Family,’ without the commercials; and yet, for some women; our mothers, our sisters, our neighbours, our work colleagues and our friends, an intolerable existence spent cowering in their own homes means surviving through unmitigated misery.

  Women who, behind closed doors, are regularly left staggering, bloodied and breathless; scared for their lives. Women who are just about able to manage to register the sound of their broken hearts beating as it ferociously pumps fresh blood past their ringing ears; women who organise their thoughts long enough to engage their uncomprehending brains to render them emotionally capable to become brave enough to dial for the help that they so desperately and richly deserve, but help that will sadly, tragically, shamefully, fail to arrive.

  Now I don’t mean help from the likes of those brilliant agencies like Safe Ireland, agencies who provide valuable counselling, information, advice, advocacy, hand holding and support because that’s available. Thank God for these angels of mercy. What I mean is the type of help they need from our State agencies; our Government.

  Recently our entire nation mourned the cowardly shooting of unarmed hero Garda Tony Golden who was murdered as he went to the aid of a young woman who was the victim of domestic violence.

  Four months ago North Dublin woman Emma Murphy, complete with black eye and tears of terror, sat at the foot of her stairs and revealed to the world in a 38-second video which went viral, her family’s dark secret; she was the victim of domestic violence. In those 38 seconds, Emma became a survivor and a beacon of hope for the courageous 46,100 women who, in 2014, had daringly picked up the ‘phone and begged for help.

  At the time, Emma’s partner, now former partner, admitted to pushing her, pathetically explaining, “I lost the head and basically pushed her straight in the face. I shoved her in the face. It was a real forceful shove in the face. It was pretty violent and there’s no excuse at all and I’m extremely sorry for that.” He’s got no excuse but hey, he’s sorry; well that makes it all honky dory then doesn’t it mate!

  Let me say for those abusers with a short fuse who think it’s acceptable to violently push a woman in the face…the situation is now shifting lads; women like Emma – brave, strong, exceptional women – will not and should not be content to sit and suffer in silence. 

  There is no shame to being a victim of domestic abuse; there is no shame to publicly expose broken promises and tattered lives that have lain buried deep inside your family’s flesh like a rotting splinter…no shame whatsoever. Breaking the cycle and exposing abusers is the only way to purge the putrid infection that is the brutal, cowardly, sick, perverted thug who somehow gets off on terrorising his/her entire family, thinking a piteous apology afterwards will suffice.

  And yes, I did write his/her because I do know that men can be victims of domestic violence, although the incidences of this are far fewer than they are for women, however, they should never be overlooked and help needs to be widely and freely available for all sufferers.

  Those who prey on their partners and children must be outed and disgraced, charged and convicted in a court of law and I want to say to them that in my opinion, as a wife, mother, grandmother and human being that those who abuse are nothing short of cowardly predators who hold family members, (again mainly women and children), captive through their warped physical, sexual, financial and emotional violation. In fact, as hunters and destroyers, abusers couldn’t be more predatory if they had a set of claws and razor-sharp teeth. 

  Those of you who exploit your families and loved ones leave not just the physical scars of abuse; the black eyes, the bite marks, the bruises and the deep, bloody cuts but also the psychological scars; the scars not so easily recognisable but that are still discernable to those who are in tune and who empathise with your prey. Never forget there are those who can sense and feel your victims’ pain emanating from them like heat from a red-hot furnace; who can, following a short conversation during a fleeting meeting at the supermarket, quickly cop on to their nervous twitch, their ever scanning eyes and their pitiful lowered voices that your victim thinks she’s kept well hidden; but that, to the experienced eye and ear, has only served to form a network of trauma, dotted in deep crevices across their psyche. Trauma that is so normal to them, trauma they’ve lived with for so long, they didn’t even realise they’d become a casualty of the war being fought in their own sitting rooms.

  As Dr Crowley and her team, and those at Safe Ireland and agencies like them continue to carry out their excellent research and work and as the conference comes to a close, discussions about domestic violence in this country should not cease. This type of thuggery and abuse is a deeply rooted insidious problem in good Catholic Ireland; in fact, when looking at the stats, it could be said domestic abuse has catastrophically become part of our culture. Tragic, isn’t it?

  What’s really tragic however is that these courageous women have essentially had their personalities stolen from them and don’t even realise they’re actually broken until they break.

  Isn’t it about time our Government protected them when they emerge on their long journey out of the shadows?