Violence against women in Ireland
By Deborah Condon
Violence against women and girls is a human rights and public health emergency worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. It causes mental and physical injury, exposes women and girls to diseases and forced pregnancy, increases women’s vulnerability in all spheres of their lives and in the worst cases, ends in death.
But what about the situation in Ireland? According to a recent report from Amnesty International, violence against women in this country is widespread. Furthermore the government is not doing enough to identify, combat and redress this 'grave and systematic human rights abuse'.
This is a serious accusation, but unfortunately the facts are there to back it up. Continuing research has shown that violence against women is prevalent here, yet despite task forces, report and committees, the government has done little to actually help the victims of abuse.
The facts about levels of violence here are startling:
-The Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) Report (2002) found that one in four women had experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime and one in five had experienced sexual assault as adults.
-In 2003, the Women's Aid helpline answered almost 13,000 calls. One in three of these related to physical violence, 13% to sexual abuse.
-Between January 1996 and the end of June 2005, 109 women were murdered in Ireland, 72 of these in their own homes. In those cases which have been resolved (up to the end of June 2005), all were perpetrated by a man and almost half were perpetrated by the woman's partner or ex-partner.
-A survey conducted by Dublin's Rotunda Maternity Hospital in 2000, found that in a sample of 400 pregnant women, one in eight had experienced abuse at the hands of their partner while pregnant.
-A survey of women attending GP surgeries in 2002 found that two in five women who had been involved in a sexual relationship with a man, had experienced violence. This violence ranged from being punched in the face to being choked.
As shocking as these figures are, it is widely accepted that they probably under-represent the true extent of the problem. This is due to significant under-reporting of violence by women. A study by Women's Aid in the mid-1990s found that only one in five women who experienced domestic violence in Ireland ever contacted the Gardai.
"While stigma and shame are still unfortunately an issue, low reporting is also due to women's lack of confidence in the justice system", explained Sean Love, director of Amnesty's Irish section.
According to the Amnesty report, most reports of violence against women do not result in a conviction and there is little monitoring of the effectiveness of legal and other measures to prevent, identify, investigate and punish this violence.
It highlights the fact that the conviction rate for domestic violence has dropped from 16% in 1997 to 6.5% in 2002, despite the introduction of the 1996 Domestic Violence Act. Furthermore the Gardai's Domestic Violence Intervention policy has not been reviewed and women experiencing domestic violence, rape and sexual assault 'report inconsistent responses' from Gardai.
Meanwhile family law courts are overstretched and victims of domestic violence can experience long delays in accessing the courts for protective orders, such as a barring order. Where these orders are obtained, they are 'not vigorously enforced'.
"The extent to which men are charged with appropriate criminal offences for acts of violence in the family is unknown, but it is believed that they are often charged with least serious offences, such as breaching a barring order", the report said.
It notes that the effectiveness of the justice system and its sensitivity towards women experiencing violence has not been the subject of any official government review to date.
So what has the government done? Well way back in 1997, it published the Report of the Task Force on Violence Against Women. This contained comprehensive proposals for a coordinated, coherent and integrated response to violence against women. This, the task force said, should be done through the development of services and preventative strategies and the improvement of legislation and law enforcement.
However two crucial components of the report were never implemented - a national strategy on violence against women and 'monitoring and evaluating systems' for the planning and delivery of the measures it proposes.
Also in 1997, a National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women was established to implement the task force's report. However according to Amnesty, this committee 'has not been enabled to adequately fulfil any of its original nine functions'.
Amnesty also notes that funding for frontline services, which offer essential support to victims, remains fixed at the 2003 allocation. This means that despite more people attempting to avail of these services, funding has not increased in two years.
"What Amnesty highlights in its report is pervasive and avoidable state failure to protect women from serious violations of their human rights", Mr Love said.
However Amnesty also emphasises the role Irish society should be playing in tackling this issue.
"We, Irish society, have both the power and the responsibility to finally end this abuse. Individuals are crucial to the eradication of this human rights violation. Violence against women is not a private matter - it is everyone's business."
The Amnesty report, Justice and Accountability: Stop Violence Against Women, was published in June, 2005.
Most disturbingly, the report seems to show that a bad situation is getting worse. Alcohol consumption too is increasing; the two are obviously closely linked. Thank you.
Domestic violence has always existed. Unfortunately, all the emphasis is put on physical abuse and violence. Physical abuse is appalling and unspeakable, but far deeper scars are inflicted, permanently, by mental and psychological abuse. This is actually violence of a more disgusting kind. (Recommended reading: "Stalking the Soul" by psychiatrist Marie-France Hirigoyen. (excellent). Situational violence, fuelled by alcohol, is also appalling, but the dynamics are very different. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse. The list is long. Most abusers abuse surreptitiously. They are "stealth abusers". You have to actually live with one in order to witness the abuse. There are three important categories of abuse: Overt Abuse The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring ("silent treatment"), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse. Covert or Controlling Abuse Abuse is almost entirely about control. It is often a primitive and immature reaction to life circumstances in which the abuser (usually in his childhood) was rendered helpless. It is about re-exerting one's identity, re-establishing predictability, mastering the environment – human and physical. To the abuser, nothing exists outside himself. Meaningful others are extensions, internal, assimilated, objects – not external ones. Thus, losing control over a significant other – is equivalent to losing control of a limb, or of one's brain. It is terrifying. Independent or disobedient people evoke in the abuser the realization that something is wrong with his worldview, that he is not the centre of the world or its cause and that he cannot control .......""""
Patricia - from a non-psychologists abuse, viewing it from a differnet angle, there are 3 types of abuse. Physcial - beating, punching, kicking etc. Verbal - which can be emotional or mental. And sexual - which is both physical and for the most part also mental
I agree with both Patricia and Anonymous who posted after her. Not all abusers beat, punch or kick, and often insidious abuse is worse than physical abuse. I have first hand experience of a Covert Controlling Abuser - arguably the most self-centred man on the planet who is hell bent on destroying his children as he has already destroyed his wife, all for the sake of controlling them. I chose to remain single and childless because of the way I was treated as a child (and well into adulthood, including right now). Abusers don't change, the system in Ireland is too underfunded to make significant change so those who are abused, if they can, must learn to deal with such abuse and with God's help escape from it.
It's not just the fear of the police not believing or taking action. It's the fear of family and friends not believing you, or bizzarely, the fear that if you expose the abuser for what he is, he will suffer repercussions in his life. I was abused for almost two years by a highly respected, award winning journalist and I still haven't really told people the full extent of the things he did, even though it was a long time ago, and I am now extremely happily married to a fantastic man. I don't know what I was thinking at the time, but it felt more important to protect his reputation as a so called decent middle class intellectual than stand up and say 'look what he did to me'. I'm not going to do anything about it now, but I sometimes feel like I want to report him to somebody as I colluded in him getting away with it. He really messed my life up for the time we were together and for a good while afterwards.
Am looking for advice for a friend who is the the middle of suffering controlling abuse from her ex-husband to the extend that her friends and family fear for her safety. She needs advice on how to handle this. She is going through legal / police channels at the moment but could do with advice on understanding his psycholocial make-up. They have children so she has to be able to deal with him for years to come. Any names books or counsellors or associations that could help her manage this emotionally.
I got some warning signs alright from an ex-boyfriend before he beat me up one night. If I looked at any man in the pub he used to cup his hand under my chin and pull it back to make me look at him again. Then he would redden up and glare in the direction that I was looking in. His fists would clench and he would whisper things like, "Don't do this to me or You only belong to me. Never forget that." When he went to the counter to get a drink he would keep looking back at me winking to hold my attention. When we walked along the street he would pull me really tightly to him as though he never wanted to leave me go but sometimes he would dig his fingers in my shoulder and hurt me. If I protested he would start kissing me all over my face and hair. He had very few friends and rarely spoke to anyone when I was with him and he used to tell me to avoid my own friends. One day when I went to meet him I saluted a neighbour of mine, stopped and had a little joke with him. When I went up to my ex he told me to go away and that he didn't want me anymore. I asked him for an explanation but he was in a foul mood and just started shouting at me to go away. I couldn't understand his reaction at all and tried my best to bring down his bad mood. He was walking a good way in front of me so I continued to call out to him. Then all of a sudden he raced back towards me and started kicking and punching me in the legs and stomach. Then he went for my head and kept hitting it for what seemed like an eternity. Finally he let go and walked away. I don't know how I got home and I don't even know if someone was with me. I have no memory of the rest of that day. All I can remember was that I thought my head was going to fall off. I think that there is only one way to deal with these people. Gather a family or neighbourhood together. Leave him see how many people are against him. That's what I did.
what about mothers who let their husbands abuse their children and then tell the abuser how wonderful he is and how the children are so ungrateful for all the sacrifices(none) that they made!! Why encourage them then the husband says to the mother that the children are the way they are because she is a bad mother .. belittling her and fusrtating the mother against the children . It is sad but true. They would go to lengths lying to their friends even to vcover the situation blaming all others and all other factor but the real problem ALCOHOLIC BULLY
Perhaps there are a number of factors involved in this The mother is afraid of the father. She depends on him financially both for herself and her children. She's also afraid oif what she percieves as publich shame which is why she tries to cover it up.
I know that there are factors that come into play and it was not financial in this case, fear certainly did. There was a place to go to so it was not like she was trapped with no money and no alternative.
And is hiding domestic violence better or justifiable because of percieved public shame?? Causing mental damage and physical damage to a child which has lasting effects and different effects on individuals than doing what comes naturally to a mother and protecting her offspring her babies? I see your point Mary and I know where you are coming from but honestly the results are too devestating on each sibling, plus she can't be that afraid of public shame as he chased us out of the house into the street more than once. jumping on the bonnet of the car and spitting like a wild animal.. Honestly and this in a very respectable southside estate!
is hiding domestic violence better or justifiable because of percieved public shame? Oh absolutrely not. I am not defending violence in any way just sugesting excuses that the mother might have felt were the case at the time.
First of all the abused person loses all self esteem and refuses to trust anyone. Its a cancer that the society always had a cure for but refused to act or acknowledge. It comes in all shapes and forms and does not follow gender boundaries. I have personally referred people to many wonderful self help and government funded organisations that have helped people get back to some kind of normality. Must remember though it is a huge industry worldwide. What a person needs most for now is a true friend who is always there without having to be there. Knowing how the system works also helps. A few words of advice. Keep diary of events, privately. Get a dictaphone. They are small and discreet. Call the gardai. the perpetrator is removed immediately. Call the social services they will respond and prepare a report for the courts and the gardai.Especially if it happens to be he, you will never have to hear or see him again. You will get control of your life. For now the onus is completely in favour of the woman and children for their protection. Use it wisely as it is open to abuse but extremely effective.Drinkers daughter no one deserves to be terrified, abused or treated as such. I believe even one incident as such is one too many. Word of advice ladies. When you meet a scumbag portraying himself as a man, walk away. Afterall when you see doggy poo in the street don't you walk away. Same applies to men. No more excuses please take control of yoour life. It may seem hard at first but is a doddle compared to waht you may face in the long run.
Nick if you want to talk you can call me. The contact numbers you will find on www.fathers.ie. Its completely free of charge and non biased. I am sure I can help.
I went for help to get out of domestic violence and whatever self esteem I had left the so called agencies of the State knocked the rest out of me. Now, I say,,do not be fooled..do not come forward. The state wants women to know their place.Oh Lord Yes. Go home and obey him, this is a catholic country and marriage is for life. The judge has no power according to social services as they tell him what to do. they are extremely good at perjury too. I, for some reason was declared too powerful for a woman and had to be taught my place.I was ordered by social worker/male to jump every time he clicked his fingers.To repeat 3 times how he had the power.If I refused he was going to stitch me up in court. He did, bless him. Why???? because the system was forcing us back into violence and we idd not want it.The children were told they would be dragged by the hair to see him or I would go to prison and they would go to a care home/prison too. All in our lovely secret courts of course.!!!!! I just spoke to Ian Josephs and he explained the amount of money the agencies make from our misery.How lawyers only care about their fee.How evidence suddenly disappears etc, etc. I am in the middle of a book and also writing a play to illustrate this truth to all. I am gagged of course, having been dragged into the judges chambers and having my fingers rapped for taking notes in court.I mean how dare we step out of our box and reclaim our power. Now we could opt for the new safe box= a prison within a prison. The whole experience taught me a lot and I declare 2007 YEAR OF TRUTH to shed light on these gestapo courts that Hitler would be proud of. As a nation we keep copying the British instead of thinking anew when we have the chance. The Government even brought over some British social workers to teach these torture tactics to the irish gobshites and now if you check carefully you will discover that they are in high positione in the various depts. I was told go home or go homeless and we steal your children.I chose homeless/violence free and now my children are grown up with their own jobs and above all freedom and strength of their own at no expence to the state as it even took my childrens allowence away.I was refused maintainance because I refused to go home and obey. This is why abused women do not go all the way in the legal process.It is all a secret though.shhhhhh What message is the system sending out?? VIOLENCE IS REWARDED.!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, never mind Johnny, we know he bet the shit out of your mum, we know he beat you too. We know he pointed a gun at you but you must now shut up and get into that room and obey us. That gives you all a glimmer of what to expect. Happy new year. I plan to change all that with your help in speaking out and ignoring the gagging order.No one has the right to shut out Truth.!!!!
I don't for the life of me know why women put up with abuse from their partners. Why can't they just get out. What their children see, is more deeply routed in their psyche than any words. Women are not helpless. If a man raised his hand to me or my kids, I would be gone tomorrow. We ban cigerettes but we still have a huge problem with homelessness and alcohol. Isn't it time we took our own destinies into our own hands, if for nothing else but for the mental health of our children?
NO Lillith, that is not acceptable treatment for any human being. You do not have to put up with violence. You are entitled to maintenance for your children and a safe home to grow up in and you are not legally (or indeed morally) obliged to obey anyone exept the law of the land and that law prohbits violence to any adult in any circumstances except self defence. Also, no child will be dragged to see a prent they don't want to see - I have personal experience of this. A court will not compel a child to see a violent parent. In fact, judges will prevent a violent father from having access to their child
I also note that social worker asked me to lie and mention the ex good points.I asked what good points and he could find none either, so he said \"well lie about him and tell them he is really ok deep down\" This is my experience and it stinks to high heaven.
The solicitors tell you to drag the children to access..by the hair if necessary or the Judge will throw you/abused in jail.Of course it beggers belief but it happens.Now te latest news is that we made it up because womens aid is run by feminists like germaine greer and these women put us up to it. Anew one on me considering feminism is a patriarchial creation to try and keep us fighting against each other and they clean up financially. The Judge say no accesss but HSE said yes as he appeared so sweet and innocent.Well they fell for it just like I did. But they were very anti woman I can tell you.And boy can they lie under oath. I heard so much about myself that Idid not know who they were all talking about. Go Home and Obey..will ring in my ears forever though. Of course I refuse to and they can all do what they please, but I chose peace and safety for my children and myself too.
Lillith, While I realise from reading your posts that you have been through a bad time. Nevertheless, the Father of your children is the Father of your children. They have a right to see him and he has a right to see them. If he mistreats them or is violent to them then that is another story but he should be allowed SUPERVISED visits with them for both their sakes. That is not an area that you have any business involving yourself with. If you cannot be next,nigh or near him then let the Social Workers deal with the children seeing him and let the Social Workers supervise the visits. He is their Father and will be forever. If they don't want to see him, then they have to tell the Social Workers that, not you as if you interfer it will be totally counterproductive to your situation.
Anon, if a child does not want to see their father or is afraid of him, then they should not be forced to see him. You don't need to be a child psychologist to know that, you just need a bit of common sense. As their mother, Lillith has every business involving herself with this as her children obviously seme afraid of their father. Then if my father abused me or indeed my mother, I reckon I would never want to so much as be in the same room as him not to mind visit him - no child would. They'd either fear or hate him or both.
Alice, I agree with you. IF a child is afraid of their father they should not be forced to see him. HOWEVER, if that is the case, and the visits are supervised by a 3rd party, that will become abundantly obvious to the 3rd party and then something can be sorted. Unfortunately due to some women (and I am not saying this about Lillith) using their children to grind an axe with their spouses, it is hard for the 'system' to always figure out the real truth. I am speaking from personal experience here. If you heard what my ex sister in law said about her husband and how she tried to brain wash the children to do her dirty work for her, it was scandalous. My brother was accused of everything under the sun ie. violence, abuse, sexual abuse of children, homosexuality, the whole works WITHOUT ONE SINGLE piece of evidence. In fact, my ex sister in law still abuses all of us. 25 years later and she still makes abusive phone calls to me until eventually 1 caring officer of the state gave her a serious warning. Enough to make her stop. I haven't even been in contact with her for all those years yet she still carries on like this. If you met her she would convince you that black was white! Totally believeable in her (what I can only call) insanity! The abuser in their case was the Mother. Women like that are never dealt with by the system and they are the ones that have caused this problem in the first place.
It is hard to know why a man wants to beat a woman and make you a woman know or feel they have no worth. I have been beaten by my father for years. He is a great man to tell me what a fb I am. He puts his fist in my face and tells me he will knock me out or break my neck. I feel so terrorised and I feel I have no choice but to do what he tells me. There is no such thing as choice in terms of doing anything other than he tells me. It is far more dangerous if you don't do as you are told. He hates women and the vile and disturbing violence which he spouts about what b women are and what he will do to me if I do not listen to him or do what I am told is just unbelievable. For years I could just not literally move, I would be so terrorised. He had to control absolutely everything, the number of times I had his fist in my face because he said I was looking at him the wrong way or because he said I was looking at him at all. I wet the bed for years and years. The humiliation is great and awful. I can honestly say I did not know what was happening to me for years and years. I was always so afraid, he would always tell me he was watching me and would 'get' me or 'come after me' if I did not do as he told me. I don't know if other women have felt the same way but when you are around someone who is so violent it is better to do whatever they say so that they do not hurt you more. My father loved to humiliate me, he was and still is the greatest joker going. He thinks he is so funny. He loves the fact he makes me so scared. The verbal abuse of what a b I am, how thick I am, what a f eejit I am. His snarl and violence is so extreme. No one in my family will do anything as they are all too scared to him. I have tried to stand up to him but I ended up being more beaten. A man who is nearly six foot, when his fist beats you it is like being hit by a brick. My head would literally spin around and I would feel physically sick. I would not know what was happening to me half the time. I just saw this post and thought I would write of my own experience. How do abused women get better? Where can I go to get help for myself? If he knew I had spoken to anyone about what was happening to me he would kill me.
SS - your father is a dangerous violent control freak and frankly psychopathic - becuase his behaviour is in fact symptomatic of a psychological disorder of an extremely serious nature. One you are not responsible for just as you are not responsible for the horrific violence he inflicts on you. Wetting the bed is a sure sign of how horrifically distressed you are by his horrific emotional and physical abuse and no one should have to suffer this. In fact if your father treated an animal like this he would face criminal charges. You don't say what age you are or if you have any support from other family members (possibly not if they are in the grip of his fear too) but the law is there to protect you from this. If you are an adult, then report him to the guards on grounds of vicious assault, grevious bodily harm at the least and make it known that you are literally afraid for your life. They can apply to the courts for a protction order. If you can leave and stay with someone else - do so for your own sake. If you are betwen 16 and 18, (a minor) you can legally leave if you wish. Go to your local hospital also and present for treatment of any injuries and tell them exactly what happened and who is responsible - if you are under 18 they are duty bound to inform the guards and a social worker - who can intervene to either provide a care place for you or have him removed from the home if another adult is present. If you are under 18, you can also contact childline who can provide more advice but you do not have to put up with the violent and criminal behaviour of someone who is frankly, a sick monster. You might want to contact womens aid (who may have shelters and refuges) and the samaritans as well - I believe they now have an email address. Seek help and do it today. When he no longer has a hold on you, you may want to consider counselling. There are two excellent books which may help as well. One is Toxic Parents - by Susan Forward The other is called 'For your own good' by Alice Miller. Do post again if you think there's any other advice or help I can offer and do seek help.
For years my mother has refused to believe my father sexually abused me and my little brother. I tried to tell people but they told me I must have egged him on in some way and that I had twisted him and that was why he molested my brother after me. I eventually got away to relatives in England and my brother followed later.
To this day I still dislike men but in my teens found myself sleeping around, now I sometimes have sex with men I don't like coz I don't know how else to relate to them.
I have a baby girl and have never allowed any man near her and will never. Men are all monsters
A recent billboard poster of the campaign against domestic violence showed a clear bias against men. It showed fallen chairs and had the caption: "He hit her again in front of the children." Yes, it is true that the majority of perpetrators are men, but as in every area of conflict it needs two to make a quarrel. Many women believe that women are not capable of violence by nature - but they forget verbal abuse, ridicule and mental cruelty. Having been witness to a number of domestic scenes where women ridiculed their partners in the presence of friends, I really admired the men's restraint. I can give evidence to some arguments in which women were clearly the aggressors. Many men simply don't have the same verbal ammunition at their disposal and resort to physical violence to stop futher aggression.
Only when the whole dynamic of a conflict that leads to violence is investigated, real peaceful solutions can be found. As long as women show their disappointment in their husbands by resentment and ridicule they tip the balance to aggression - and they should become aware of their role.
Learning how best to relate is what both partners need to improve.
Dorethee, you say that in as in every area of conflict it needs two to make a quarrel but you forget that there is NO reason or justification for domestic violence - AT ALL. This is one area where the abuser lashes out and all it takes is the abuser to make the quarrel and the cause the violence as their victim is not to blame. As for admiring a mans restraint - what would you have expected him to do. In ANY instance where an adult lashes out, except in cases of self defence - there is NO justification for it. The idea of a man resorting to physical violence and using the excuse that it's to prevent verbal aggression is nothing short of PATHETIC. The correct and only response is to WALK AWAY. As for blaming the victims attitude (resentment and ridicule) for the violent actions of another - for which there is NEVER justification, frankly this is nothing short of sick and akin to blaming rape victims for their aggressors actions. It is precisely this type of attitude that excuses violence. Learnign to relate to your partner is very important but why should any woman or man have to relate to an abuser? The only relating required there is a barring order IMO
"I really admired the men's restraint" - what are you sayin Dorothee? That these men are to be commended for resisiting the urge to hit their wives? That wives who are beaten somehow "ask for it" because they might nag their partners? Get real.
"As long as women show their disappointment in their husbands by resentment and ridicule they tip the balance to aggression - and they should become aware of their role." - I nearly dont believe this woman!
Abuse of any kind is NOT to be tolerated, and that includes not just physical violence, (which is always the most evident, so to speak), but emotional and mental, and verbal, abuse.
There is absolutely NO excuse for striking another person, or for demeaning, verbally abusing, psychologically abusing (in fact the latter leaves scars which never heal).
Episodes of aggressive outbursts resulting in either destruction of property or physical assaults on others. Typically, this problem results in legal problems as well, because the individual is often charged with assault, or a domestic violence charge.
Loss of control is an essential feature of this disorder. The individual, usually male, has had several incidents of losing control of anger, resulting in aggressive acting out, either by assaulting others, or destroying property. The degree of aggression is always out of proportion to any precipitating factors that might be present (within an argument, for example). Typically, these individuals will not take responsibility for their loss of control, instead blaming the victim, other circumstances in their life, or some third party who may have told them something or said something that "caused" their uncontrolled anger. Lack of control is a central part of the problem, and inability to accept responsibility for the aggression helps to alleviate guilt. It also prevents the individual from making any changes.
I have always said any man who abuses a woman is a total coward.