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New campaign asks: 'If you witnessed domestic violence, what would you do?'

Around 300,000 men and women in Ireland have been victims of severe abuse by a partner – 70% of people say it’s a common problem in Ireland.

Source: Department of Justice & Equality/YouTube

THE GOVERNMENT’S €950,000 domestic violence campaign aimed at involving bystanders who witness abuse and getting them to act or offer support will begin this Friday.

The campaign is based on research which shows that although 70% of people think domestic abuse in Ireland is a common problem and wish to help, people were unsure of what to do in reaction to incidences of domestic violence.

Funding for the campaign is allocated for 2016 and 2017, and involves artwork from Oscar-winning director Ben Cleary and an award-winning photographer.

The campaign will be launched across outdoor, online, print, and television outlets, and depicts both men and women being assaulted through a half-open door.

The campaign was launched today by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, who said that the campaign would aim to change behaviours and attitudes and to ensure men and women didn’t feel isolated.

14/11/2016 Safe Ireland Summits Frances Fitzgerald speaking at the Safe Ireland Summit. Source: Leah Farrell

Figures in the Attitudes to Domestic Abuse in Ireland survey show that 9% of people would help a friend, 65% would help a stranger and 38% would help a neighbour being subjected to domestic abuse.

This campaign calls on us as relatives, friends neighbours, bystanders and witnesses to collectively say that domestic violence is not right and it must stop.

Speaking on the additional funding, the Minister said that the upturn in the economy allowed funds to be freed up for the cause:

“I do think it is money well spent. This is a problem, and we need to interrupt it.”

She also said that this national ad campaign would be accompanied by local and grassroots projects, and that there needed to be greater supports around home ownership.

“Women who choose to stay in their family home need to be supported, and there will be those who have to leave. Perpetrators will also be brought to justice.”

Taking action

This is a point that Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid says is important – if you see an incidence of violence happen, that is a crime that needs to be reported, “just like a car crash would be”.

But if you’re unsure of what you saw, or if you happen to notice signs, such as regular bruises on someone, you should reach out to the person.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at the launch, she said that it was important to tailor responses to the individual you’re concerned about, emphasising the Tánaiste’s point that there is no ‘one right way’ to respond to domestic violence.

“This campaign is about action, but your action could be as simple as saying to someone ‘I’m concerned about you’ and listening to them and what they have to say.”

Domestic violence in Ireland

Source: Department of Justice & Equality/YouTube

It is estimated that around 300,000 people in Ireland have been severely abused by a partner at some point in their lives. This breaks down to 213,000 women and 88,000 men.

Although the campaign depicts both men and women who are at risk of domestic violence, the images of women will appear most frequently in the campaign, in proportion to figures which show they are more likely to be victims of violence, as well as more extreme cases.

The campaign will run for six years – with the first three years focusing on domestic violence, and the second three years dealing with cases of sexual violence (pending the necessary funding).

Funding of €200,000 has also been made available under the Dormant Accounts Fund to localise the campaign in 2016 and 2017.

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