COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service has called on the local community to recognise domestic abuse as a wider societal issue and to be alert to the fact that a woman they know may be in an abusive situation at home – one that is perhaps compounded under COVID restrictions.
As the local organisation marks the annual global awareness campaign, 16 days of Action on Violence against Women, COPE Galway is calling on neighbours, friends, co-workers and professional services to make a conscious effort to open and keep open the lines of communication with a woman you may not have heard from in a while.
After several months of reduced interaction during the pandemic, it might take more of an effort to contact people you would usually see more regularly. As a community, we have a role to play in keeping channels of communication open with our friends and neighbours.
Normal channels closed off
Dr Carol Baumann, Head of Domestic Abuse at COPE Galway said that current living circumstances have eroded opportunities for women and children in abusive situations to seek help, to tell someone, to gain headspace, to reflect.
“Normal channels for release – friends, professional services, extended family - are closed off, resulting in many more women and children living in more intense, possibly more dangerous homes. ”Coercive control and other forms of domestic abuse are illegal – they are a crime. Abusers use isolation to prevent their victims from connecting with the world.
'The current pandemic does not cause domestic abuse but it certainly promotes it'
If someone is in danger, then the Gardai should be called – 999. Do not ignore the signs of isolation – if you see that things are not ok then call us on 091 56 59 85 and we can guide and help work out a way to support. Let your friend know it is possible to get help; if someone asks you to make the call, please do so. Our service is open 24/7. We have space. We have time. We offer support at every stage and guide through each step to take,” said Dr Baumann.
She added that the pandemic has presented a unique opportunity for intimate abuse and control, which thrives in a time of restricted movements and recommendations to work from home, to limit social interaction and to reduce contact.
Impact of Covid-19 pandemic
“The current public health messaging, essential in respect of a pandemic, perversely echoes the messages of an abusive partner – no need for you to go to work, stay here with me, we don’t need anyone else, I’ll mind your phone... COVID has become a partner in crime – it does not cause domestic abuse but it certainly promotes it”.
During the international “16 Days of Action” campaign (November 25-December 10 ), COPE Galway is publishing “Gillian’s Story” on their digital platforms, walking with Gillian as she wrestles with some tough choices.
On the final day, December 10, they launch their Relationship Checklist Poster, which contains some vital questions to ask yourself to determine the health of your relationship. The poster will be available on www.copegalway.ie and is ready to go into all public outlets throughout city and county.
Please visit copegalway.ie/16days or @copegalway social media pages for information. #16daysofactivism #16Days #letshelptogether
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or is affected by any of the issues mentioned above phone COPE Galway Domestic Abuse free and confidential service at 091 565 985 (24h ).