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Domestic abuse statistics are shocking

WATERSIDE woman Irene Wilson, who suffered a severed artery after being attacked by her partner of more than 30 years, said she is ‘shocked and disgusted’ by the recent rise in domestic abuse statistics for the district.

Appealing for women and men who are suffering from domestic violence to come forward and not suffer in silence, the anti-domestic violence campaigner said she cannot understand why, despite high profile campaigns, the message is not getting through to perpetrators.

The latest statistics show that there were 4,137 domestic violence incidents in ‘G’ District over the last year – 2,429 of which were in Foyle and which represented a significant increase on the previous year.

“These are the only ones that are reported to police but even so it shocks and disgusts me. What disgusts me most is the fact there are ongoing campaigns to highlight domestic abuse and yet this crime is still rising at an alarming rate. You ask yourself what is wrong that the message is not getting through, and you begin to ask ‘what are we doing wrong in our society that this crime is still at forefront of the news on a weekly basis’,” said Irene.

“I am appealing to people to go to police and report what they are suffering. The police and other organisations are there for a reason, and I can honestly say that the staff at the domestic abuse unit on Strand Road are very helpful,” added Irene, who sustained a severed artery when she was beaten by her former partner, and had to be rushed to hospital.

“In this city we have the Women’s Aid, the PSNI and Women’s Outreach just over the border. We have help out there and without them and without the help I got from Victim Support and the people at Creative Energy I know I would not have coped.There is back up out there and I would appeal to people to reach out and let these organisations help,” she said, adding: “Personally, I have to say that holiday times, and especially Christmas, were always a bad time in my house, as well as times when more alcohol was consumed, like when the football is on and people being home carry-outs of alcohol. Alcohol is a feeble exuse; in fact, there is no excuse for domestic abuse whether a man is hitting a woman or a woman is hitting a man.”

Commenting on the statistics, G District Domestic Abuse officer, Sergeant Ricky Clarke, said: “We know that a large number of domestic incidents go unreported right across Northern Ireland and part of our job is to let people know that they do not have to endure abuse in silence.

“Police continue to work in partnership with other agencies like Women’s Aid to encourage victims to come forward and we believe the increase in incidents right across the District is as a result of that effort. It’s important that the message is getting out that there is support for victims and a means through the law to address the situation they are in.

“Whenever an incident of domestic abuse is reported to us it is investigated and where criminal offences have been committed, officers will take positive action. It is not always necessary for the victim to make a statement.

“MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) focuses on high risk victims of domestic abuse and provides information sharing and joint risk identification and management to protect the most vulnerable victims and their families. There are also two Foyle Women’s Aid Criminal Justice Support Workers attached to the Domestic Abuse office who can offer advice to victims and their families and signpost them to other support services.”

Speaking ahead of the Halloween period Sergeant Clarke added: “Holiday times can be particularly difficult for domestic abuse victims and we would encourage anyone who is suffering to contact us directly or through one of partner agencies. Domestic abuse in the home can have a traumatic and long-lasting effect on children. We are fully committed to dealing with domestic abuse and supporting victims and their families through the justice system process.”

Source: Londonderry Sentinel

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