Many remain unsure of warning signs as domestic abuse rates soar in lockdown

20

The number of women being assaulted and abused in their homes has risen dramatically since the start of Covid-19 but many remain unsure of the warning signs.

Last week saw a landmark ruling where a 52-year-old man was convicted of coercive control, intimidation and multiple assault charges following a 21-day trial.

It was the first time a jury has found anyone guilty of such an offence under the new Domestic Violence Act 2018.

Meanwhile, a total of 22 women and children are contacting domestic violence services for the first time each day as the pandemic goes on, Safe Ireland revealed.

This means many are experiencing or recognising abuse for the first time.

Domestic violence involves one person controlling and asserting power over another in the home.

This is usually perpetrated by men against women, but not always.

The violence can take several forms including physical and sexual abuse.

But emotional abuse or coercive control can be hard to recognise – and the perpetrator does everything they can to convince their victim nothing is wrong.

Safe Ireland’s Lisa Marmion told Dublin Live: “When people are not familiar with the experience of coercive control, it may be more difficult for them to initially see it.

“With physical abuse, you’ve got something that is very measurable –you have bruising, broken bones.

“But where it’s not physical, it can be more difficult to detect, particularly if people are not familiar.

“It’s like turning a light on when people understand the experience more, they see it easier.”

Coercive control thrives using a number of tactics such as intimidation, and isolation and all the different means by which they are achieved.

The victims’ friends, family and community members can also miss the fact someone’s being abused.

Ms Marmion said: “The narrative that the perpetrator often presents is that you’re not ever going to be believed.

“And perpetrators of coercive control can often present as a heroic person or the victim themselves.

“That often shifts the gaze from the person who’s being abused and so that’s why sometimes it doesn’t get picked up by people outside the family.”

Source: Dublin News