Many people wrongly equate abuse with physical abuse. Many others believe that the victims of abuse are always women. Abuse can take many forms such as:
- Physical: Man hitting woman/woman hitting man/man or woman hitting children or elderly relative
- Emotional/Coercive control: Any situation whereby one person seeks to control another person by playing on their emotions can be deemed to be abuse. I have seen situations where mothers have unilaterally denied the father of the children access to those children unless certain demands such as maintenance are met. A common phrase we hear a lot is that ‘she won’t let me see the children until I pay maintenance’. On the other side of the coin, we have encountered many women who are afraid to leave an abusive relationship because her husband has threatened “if you go I will keep the children”. In both of these scenarios the children are being used as pawns or bargaining chips.
- Financial abuse: In some relationships one spouse or partner may be the breadwinner or the only income earner in a household. Recently we acted in a case whereby one woman lived for over 20 years thinking the family had very little money and was given a meagre allowance each week only to learn (after our investigations) that her husband had an excellent salary and that there were substantial savings. She spent the guts of 10 years afraid to leave as she believed the family could not afford to separate.
- Sexual abuse: This is a common form of abuse among couples but most people are very reluctant to tell anyone. We had a very sad case in the office recently of a woman who was forced to have sex every time she wanted to buy anything for herself or the children.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse/violence this is what we recommend:
- If you or your children are in immediate danger go/ring the Guards. They have specially trained members who will help.
- Tell someone what is going on – many victims are too afraid to even tell their parents, siblings or friends. Please confide in someone. There is no need to be ashamed.
- Seek advice from your solicitor who can talk you through your options.
- Keep a diary of all abusive incidents – dates, times and what happened. Hide the diary.
- If you can hide a bag with some clothes, medicine, passport or other essential items in case you need to leave quickly.
- Change your passwords on your phone or other electronic devices.
- Attend your local G.P.
- Contact support services like Ascend, Women’s Aid or Adapt House.
If you are afraid, please contact our office – we will help you straight away. All our staff are trained and have experience helping people in these situations.