There is currently a campaign on Irish TV and radio around domestic violence.
Over 300,000 women and men have been the victim of severe domestic abuse by a partner. Over 70% of people say it’s a common problem in Ireland.
Every time these advertisements come on, I can’t help being reminded of two incidents in particular.
The first was as a fresh faced 18 year old. I say fresh faced, but I really mean acne ridden!
After a night of binge drinking and dancing I stumbled to the taxi rank in Cornmarket, Oxford. As I zig zagged up the street I passed a shop doorway where a girl and her boyfriend were having an argument. He was grabbing her and she was telling him to “Go Away” He then punched her in the stomach.
Being the chivalrous chap I am I stepped in.
“Come on mate, just let her go!” I said. “Let her go home and sleep it off and ring her tomorrow”
I got a punch in the face for my troubles. The police happened to be passing and promptly arrested the two of us. After a night in the cells, I was interviewed.
It turned out her statement and his differed from mine and CCTV didn’t cover the doorway. Meaning no charges were brought against him.
Fast forward to 2002 and the sunny Greek island of Corfu where I was working as a holiday rep.
I’d arranged to meet some other workers and after a few quiet drinks in one of the hotels I was responsible for I headed down the strip.
On my way I came across one of the other workers having an argument with a lad on a moped. He had her by the arm and wasn’t listening to her pleas to “Let her go!”
I approached them and told him “To let her go! And head home”
Another punch to the face and a broken tooth to boot. I saw her the next day riding around with him on the back of his moped.
These incidents serve to remind me that
- Onlookers can get involved and ring the police.
- Unless the victim makes a statement and follows it through, the offender gets away with it.
- More resources are needed to help victims leave the abuser.
I have three sons who are all told that no matter what a girl says or does you never raise your hand to them.
I would have no problems turning one of them in and making a statement if they did.
I will also raise Little Miss OMG to know this is not acceptable and she should not put up with it, if it ever happens to her!
The campaign is good in sofar as it brings a normally unspoken topic into the open. Unless more is done to help victims leave the abuser I feel it is wasted money.
We can all ring the police, step in and tell them to leave, but unless they are willing to press charges and make a statement it is all in vain.
Would you step in if you witnessed domestic abuse?