“My only first hand experience of domestic violence was volunteering at a women’s shelter in Dublin for several months in 1996/97. I worked in the children’s day care. The children that came in and out of the place ranged from babies to teenagers. Often the women would arrive in the middle of the night, carrying a garbage bag filled with clothes, little children clinging to their legs. In the days that followed they would walk up and down the halls in their slippers, tending their children, or talk a little in their dining /common area, and try to make plans of escape from their lives. The staff was wonderfully dedicated. Sometimes women and children would move on to live violence free and happy lives but some women would often have to return home to their abusers, because they had no other means of financial survival, or felt they had no other options.
Though many of us cannot imagine being in a violent relationship, domestic violence is so common that one in five women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In Ireland alone, Women’s Aid responds to over 11,000 calls a year, and over 15,000 incidents of physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse were disclosed to the Women’s Aid Helpline in 2008. Imagine the terror that not only these women, but their children, live through, every day of their lives.
Violence begets violence, and we all need to do whatever we can to stem the tide.”