The following information has been kindly provided by Belfast
Throughout this section we use the term 'friend'. The
information provided is also useful to family member, neighbours and
workers in the field. Helping our friends and family live free
from physical abuse is only part of the solution to the problem of
domestic violence. Heightening community awareness and speaking
out about the need to protect victim's rights are critical.
Thousands of women in Ireland are physically and emotionally abused
by their husbands or partners each year. Chances are, someone you
know-your mother, sister, friend, co-worker or neighbour-is a victim of
Perhaps you feel your friend's problem will "work itself
out". Nothing could be further from the truth. The
violence will not end until someone takes action to stop it.
Your support and encouragement can be of tremendous value to a friend
involved with an abusive partner. You can ease the isolation and
loss of control she may feel by listening to her, providing her with
more information on domestic violence and helping her to explore her
But I didn't know
All intimate relationships have their problems, and sometimes it's
difficult for other to decide when it's appropriate to intervene.
Maybe your friend has mentioned "trouble" at home, and you've
dismissed her comments by saying all couples have problems. Ask
yourself how you've reacted in the past to these possible signs that
your friend is being abused and need your help:
Have you readily accepted your friend's explanation for visible
injuries, such as black eyes, bruises, or broken bones? Do you
tend not to press her further about frequent "accidents"
that cause her to miss work?
Does your friend's partner exert an unusual amount of control over
her activities? Are you reluctant to discuss his control over family
finances, the way she dresses, and her contact with family and
If your friend's partner ridicules her publicly, do you and others
ignore his behaviour or join in the laughter at your friend's
expense? Think about why you might not be willing to stand up
for our friend. Do you already sense the volatile nature of
her partner's comments?
Have you noticed changes in your friend's or your friend's children's
behaviour? Does she appear frightened, exhausted or on
edge? Do the children seem to be easily upset? Are they
experiencing sudden problems in school or other activities?
You Should Know About Domestic Violence
The first step you can take to help your friend is to
team more about domestic violence. Society's lack of understanding about
the dynamics of domestic violence
often is the greatest obstacle an abused woman faces in her efforts to end
the violence in her life. With this in mind, here are some thoughts and
questions you may have.
I shouldn't get involved in a private family
Domestic violence - also called spouse abuse, battering,
women abuse, wife beating - is not just a family problem. It is a crime
with serious repercussions for your friend, your friend's children and
the entire community.
The violence can 't really be that serious.
Domestic violence can involve threats, pushing, punching,
slapping, choking, sexual
assault, and assault with weapons. It can include psychological threats and
verbal abuse that make a person fear for her safety. It is rarely a
one-time occurrence, and
usually escalates in frequency and severity over time.
Any act of domestic violence is something to take
seriously. Domestic abuse of women
can result in more injuries that require medical treatment than rape,
car accidents, and muggings
combined. Domestic violence can be deadly.
That kind of behaviour doesn't 't go on in my
Domestic violence occurs among all ages, races and
religions, and classes. It happens
to people of all educational and income levels.
My friend must be doing something to provoke her
Your friend is the victim of abuse; she is not to blame
nor does she ever deserve such treatment. Whatever problem exists
in a relationship, the use of violence to resolve them is never
justified or acceptable.
If it's so bad, why doesn't 't she
For most of us, the decision to end a relationship is not
an easy one. An abused womans' emotional ties to her partner may still
be strong, supporting her hope that the violence will end. If your
friend has been financially dependent on her partner and leaves with the
children, she may face severe economic hardship. She may not know
about available resources. Perhaps social and justice systems have
been unresponsive to her in the past. religious, cultural or
family pressures may make your friend believe it is her duty to keep her
marriage together at all costs. When your friend has previously
tried to leave, her partner may have used violence or the threat of it
to stop her,
Doesn't 't my friend care about what's happening to
Your friend is probably doing her best to protect the
children from the violence. She may feel that the abuse is only
directed at her and does not yet realise it's effect on the
children. Perhaps she believes that her children need two parents,
or lacks the resources to support them on her own. The children
may beg to stay, not wanting to leave their home or their friends.
Your friend may fear that if she leaves she will lose custody of her
I know my friend's partner - I really don 't think
he could hurt anyone.
Many abusers are not violent in other relationships. They
can be charming and lovable in a social situation, yet display extreme
violence in the privacy of the home.
He must be sick.
Violence is a learned behaviour, not a mental illness.
The abuser's experiences as a child and the message he gets from society
in general, tell him that violence is an effective way to achieve power
an control over his partner's behaviour. people who use violence
are accountable for their own actions. Viewing them as
"sick" wrongly excuses them from taking responsibility for