In a country the size of Ireland, it’s shocking to think, that over 213,000 women and over 88,000 men, have been severely abused by a partner at some point in their lives.
Either by their husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend or someone with whom they had a previous relationship.
People who engage in abusive behaviour in intimate relationships come from all social classes, all ethnic groups and cultures and from all educational backgrounds.
There is usually a pattern of repeated abuse and controlling behaviours, involving the use of physical or emotional force or the threat of physical force, including sexual violence.
Whilst it’s recognised that domestic violence can be carried out by both men and women, men are more likely to be perpetrators of violence and women tend to suffer more frequent and severe physical assaults.
“Over 213,000 women and over 88,000 men have been severely abused by a partner at some point in their lives.”
What help is available?
At present, the Government is funding three organisations to deliver a programme to male perpetrators of domestic violence across 18 locations around Ireland.
The programme has been developed in order to maximise the safety of female partners, and ex-partners, of the men on the programme and their children.
How can we help?
The people who engage in abusive behaviour, are surrounded by others who may become aware of their conduct, including parents, friends, work colleagues, siblings, etc.
If we suspect someone we care about behaving in such a manner, we may not want to believe it, or we may try to make excuses for them.
While it’s ok to love and care for someone who is acting in such a way, it’s not ok to ignore, and therefore accept, their behaviour.
We need to challenge them on it and encourage them to seek help, for the sake of their victims and themselves.
Research into the experiences of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, has resulted in an increased recognition, that domestic violence covers a wide range of different types of and patterns of behaviour, and that it can change over time.
“The notion of the perpetrator as an out-of-control, violent sociopath, who is easily identifiable, is simplistic.”
Situational Couple Violence
This type of violence occurs occasionally, when conflict between partners escalates into violence. It usually consists of minor acts of aggression, although it can be severe. It’s unlikely to escalate over time and it doesn’t usually involve general patterns of controlling behaviour.
It can be perpetrated by either men or women, or may be mutual.
Intimate Terrorism is violence used to establish control in the relationship or violence used in combination with other control tactics, including –
Violence occurs more frequently than situational violence; is usually more lethal; and more likely to escalate over time.
Partner violence that occurs when the victim of intimate terrorism fights back; the victim is not attempting to establish control in the relationship but is fighting as a means of defence, or to end the violence.
Mutual Violent Control
This category describes relationships in which both partners use violence to control the other and, hence, can be viewed as two intimate terrorists battling for control. This form of domestic violence is rare.
If you suspect someone you know may be committing acts of domestic violence, turning a blind eye is not acceptable.
Finding a supportive way to get involved may seem overwhelming, but it’s ok to be scared we’ve mis-read the situation.
What’s NOT ok, is to do nothing.
“If we do nothing, we leave another victim behind.”
How you offer support will depend on your relationship to those involved.
If you’re concerned about someone’s abusive behaviour and there is an immediate threat of serious injury to someone, you should inform the Gardaí immediately. Otherwise, the following suggestions can be used.
How to approach someone
The first approach you can take, is to make a connection with the person by saying something like:
“Seems like you haven’t been too happy recently. How are things at home?”
This suggests concern for the person but also for others, i.e. their partner or children.
If they respond by acknowledging their abuse –
“Shaming the person will only heighten denial.”
Arrange to speak with them again and/or let the person know you are there to support them but also there to see the situation improved for their partner and children.
“The key message you need to communicate, is that violence and abusive behaviour is not acceptable in any relationship and that they are 100% responsible for their own actions.”
Express to them that violence is a choice that they are making.
How to respond if someone approaches you with an admission of abuse
The fact that a person is telling you this, is a positive sign that they are unhappy that they did so and are seeking help.
Remain supportive and non-judgemental. You can offer statements such as:
Again, suggest visiting the ‘What would you do?’ campaign website.
“Express to them that violence is a choice that they are making.”
Choices Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme
Under the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, the Choices Intervention programme is currently being implemented.
The primary aims of the programme include;
The programme includes –
Under the programme, participants are challenged to –
The Choices programme is being delivered in 2017/2018 in up to 18 locations in Ireland, through a combination of non-government organisations and statutory involvement.
Choices is being run by –
Current Choices Programme locations
More information on MOVE is available at: https://www.moveireland.ie/
More information on MEND is available at: http://www.mend.ie/
NEDVIP can be contacted for information at 042 9359755
Remember, if you suspect someone is being abused - before you get involved, ask yourself if it’s safe and legal to intervene.
If the situation is already violent or looks like its escalating quickly, don’t directly intervene. Call the Gardaí on 999.
The only effective bystander intervention is a non-violent one.
If you see or suspect domestic abuse, visit whatwouldyoudo.ie or call 999.
SPIN1038 supporting Cosc
Funded by the Department of Justice and Equality, Cosc and the Dormant Accounts Fund