Pandemic or no Pandemic – The Scourge of Domestic Violence Rages On!

By Miriam Kerins

Gardaí have commenced what is their third phase of Operation Faoiseamh, an initiative which seeks to protect those affected by domestic violence; insisting the vulnerable will receive the “highest priority response” from the force.

Under this new phase, Gardaí will be reaching out to those who sought help in the past and will be on hand to provide what they say will be ‘reassurance, support and to offer the assistance of local and specialised resources.’ It is worth mentioning that, during the months of January to May of this year, 8,229 contacts or attempts to make contact with those affected by domestic violence were carried out; which means, the Gardaí are actively trying to help.

To that end, as cases of Covid continue to surge, as ‘stay at home’ restrictions have been put in place, and as people  have been asked to work from home or have been laid-off/furloughed during the emergency,  those who’re at risk are left feeling trapped and cut-off!  This situation literally means that the measures the government/HSE has put in place to protect the public from infection, are the very ones likely to expose some women to be at risk to incidences of domestic violence. All of this reinforces the sad truth that the inequities related to certain societal determinants around health and wellbeing during a national crisis, and in trying to stay safe in your, home do not inflict the same hardships on everyone.

According to Women’s Aid, ‘one in four women who have been in a relationship has been abused by a current of former partner.’  According to Men’s Aid Ireland, (formerly known as Amen), ‘one in seven men in Ireland experience domestic violence.’ Now, as violence can take many forms, i.e. physical, financial, emotional, sexual or psychological, i.e. coercive control, it’s obvious that, when taken in the context of this pandemic, every single one of these factors can make for a seriously and scarily tenuous situation for those who are victims.  Here’s an observation…Perhaps it’s time our government considered these components prior to designing, developing and implementing crisis standards of care!

There is never an excuse for domestic violence, no matter what the circumstances; and  I would urge victims to please, never accept  an abuser’s  excuse that social isolation and the current situation is causing them anxiety;  the onset of which makes them ‘snap,’ or ‘hit-out’… they’re lying.  Don’t even listen when your abuser says things like “you triggered me,” or “you made me so angry.”  They’re simply using past trauma as vindication to abuse you in the future. These statements are not apologies, nor are they a show of remorse, rather they’re cowardly and pathetic attempts to pass the blame, whitewash over their deplorable behaviour, and shrug-off their responsibility.

If you feel you are at risk of being abused in your own home/at work/at school, there is help and support available.  These include the Gardaí, which you can call on 999 or 112, the national helpline which is Women’s Aid, whose 24 hour national FreePhone number is 1800 341 900. There is also Childline on FreePhone 1800 66 66 66 or free text them on  50101, and there’s your family, friends, neighbours, someone in your local community; or perhaps another parent at the school gate or a teacher/school principal or a friend’s parent if you are a child who needs help.  If you are a man who is experiencing domestic violence, Men’s Aid can be reached on 01-554 3811.  Please readers, don’t be afraid to talk to someone, remember, your abuser is a cowardly bully who depends on you remaining silent.  Reach out; you deserve to live a safe and happy life.

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