‘Domestic abuse is a terrifying crime - do not suffer in silence’

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

The Women’s Aid charity supported 1,551 females experiencing domestic violence during a recent 12-month period, it has been revealed.

The total number of children and young people supported by Women’s Aid ABCLN was 6,580 from April 1 2017 until March 31 2018.

The figures relate to the district covering Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey.

Meanwhile, the PSNI says that domestic violence has risen to its highest level since 2004.

The message of the PSNI’s Christmas campaign is ‘If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells that’s domestic abuse’.

Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “We want to remind people they do not have to suffer in silence; that they can come forward to report any incident of domestic abuse to police.

“Domestic abuse doesn’t only occur at Christmas; it happens all year round.

“Unfortunately, however, we know over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise.

“What is also alarming is that we respond to an incident of domestic abuse every 17 minutes.

“Domestic abuse is a terrifying crime, which can have a long lasting impact and it can affect anyone, and often leaves victims feeling isolated and alone.

“I want to encourage anyone suffering from domestic abuse to call their local police on the non-emergency 101 or, in an emergency, always call 999.”

For added support, Women’s Aid operates a refuge and self-contained flats in Ballymena providing accommodation for 92 women and 66 children, from last April until the end of March.

During this period, the charity dealt with 79,750 information and support calls, carried out 1,904 homes visits and representatives from the charity accompanied women to court 555 times.

Women’s Aid says: “We would urge victims not to suffer in silence but to come forward and seek the support they need.”

To make a referral to the services, call 028 25632136: Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm, Fri 9am to 4.30 pm.

The Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline also operates 24hours- 0808 802 1414 if anyone should need support outside of the above hours.

Women’s Aid has issued the following guidelines for consideration:

Is your partner excessively jealous and possessive?

Is he charming one minute and abusive the next? Does he have sudden changes of mood – like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Is he stopping you from seeing your family and friends? Do you feel isolated?

Is he constantly criticizing you and putting you down in public?

Does he embarrass you, often in front of family and friends, so that you are seen in a bad light?

Does your partner play mind games and make you unsure of your own judgment?

Does he tell you you’re useless and couldn’t cope without him?

Does he control your money?

Does he tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, what to think?

Does he pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?

Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making him angry?

Does he monitor your movements? Or check up on you via your email, Facebook, Twitter or by looking at your text messages?

Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten you and make you comply with his demands?

Has your partner ever threatened you, or intimidated you by using violent language or smashing up the furniture?

Are you forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened of your partner’s reaction?

Are you blamed for their behaviour eg they say you were “asking for it” or deserved the abuse?

Women’s Aid says if you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may be experiencing domestic violence.

“Abuse is a crime and it is never your fault. You don’t have to deal with this alone.”