NI's domestic abuse rates rise

Published Thursday, 14 February 2013
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A woman who suffered 22 years of violence at her husband's hands has urged other victims of domestic abuse to get out of the relationship before it kills them.

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The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, left her husband two years ago following his drunken threats to murder her and her children.

After she gave police permission to go into her home and arrest him, the woman took her children to a neighbour's house for safety.

"It took police two hours to get him out because he had barricaded himself into the bedroom," she said.

"That was the last. I've never looked back."

Married at 19, the woman told UTV she was kicked, punched, given black eyes and had chunks of hair pulled out. He called her names if she went to the shops or talked to a neighbour. She feared that if she left, she would not be able to provide for her children.

"I got it all, everything.... People say she must have loved him. I never loved my husband. I didn't know what love was.

"I hid it from everybody. You blame yourself for putting your children through what they're seeing, what they've heard. I just blamed myself," she said.

The woman became suicidal and has appealed to others suffering domestic abuse to "get out while you can".

A push leads to a shove and a shove leads to a kick and a punch. It's not worth it. It catches up with you. I've been there.

Domestic abuse victim

Police have set up public protection units to deal with domestic abuse, which Superintendent Michelle Larmour said has risen 11% in a year.

"Victims are coming forward and speaking to us in relation to the ordeal they are experiencing," she explained at Women and Violence - A Journey of Hope. The conference took place at the University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus on Thursday.

Supt Larmour added that police are working with other statutory and voluntary agencies to help vulnerable people.

It is estimated that one in four women and one in six men will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Since 2010 4,700 high risk cases involving perpetrators and domestic victims have been assessed.

She said: "All of the agencies here today are gathering to say to victims that there is support. There is help. There is hope.

"The earlier we know that the abuse is happening the earlier we can do something about it and intervening."

When we get a call from a victim of domestic violence quite typically it has happened 35 times before.

Supt Larmour

Supt Larmour described the steps they are taking against domestic abuse as "violent homicide prevention".

"This is how serious domestic abuse can get. We have had experiences where victims have lost their lives and it needs to be given their priority."

As well as being the largest cause of deaths of women across the world, University of Ulster Professor Monica McWIlliams said domestic abuse also causes injury and disability, with victims living in fear.

"It's control, if I can't have you no one can, I know where you are, cyber stalking, texting," she said.

"The new technologies that we thought were going to be helpful are actually some of the most fearful things for women. There are men and children also suffering the impact of this."

Prof McWilliams said the conference was timed to highlight the reality that can lie behind flowers and declarations of affection on Valentine's Day.

"The 14th of February is the biggest day in the year for men buying women flowers and saying they're sorry - but for many women, these are just empty words," she explained.

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