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'They saved my life': Domestic abuse survivor urges neighbours to call gardaí if they hear violence

Jessica Bowes said many victims are “treading on eggshells” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jessica Bowes
Jessica Bowes
Image: The Late Late Show/RTÉ

A SURVIVOR OF domestic violence has encouraged people to call the gardaí if they become aware of domestic abuse or hear a violent altercation.

Jessica Bowes also said many victims are ”treading on eggshells” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the Late Late Show last night, Bowes said her neighbours saved her life when they intervened a few years ago.

Bowes stated that when neighbours hear a violent altercation “sometimes the attitude is, ‘If she wanted to call the guards, she’d call them herself, let’s not get involved.’”

However, she said some people may not have access to a phone or be able to call the gardaí themselves.

Source: The Late Late Show/YouTube

“Don’t assume that somebody is not calling the guards because they don’t want to, they may not be able to call the guards.

“So if you do become aware of an incident unfolding, I would absolutely encourage anybody who hears some sort of domestic to call the guards.

My neighbours saved my life, I needed that bystander intervention, or I probably wouldn’t be here. 

“It’s so important people step up when they know something is happening and that they try to help.”

In December 2016, Bowes’ former partner Jonathan McSherry was jailed for a brutal attack in which he repeatedly punched and kicked her, fracturing her eyes, face and skull.

She needed reconstructive surgery after the assault in 2015.

Increased risk 

A number of charities and organisations have raised concerns about domestic abuse victims being at an increased risk of abuse during the Covid-19 crisis.

Bowes agrees with this, last night saying: “It’s really hard because you’re constantly on edge and you’re watching what you’re doing and what you’re saying and you’re waiting on an argument to start.

“I think the pandemic has brought more opportunity for conflict – there are new things happening in relationships that weren’t happening a couple of weeks ago. People have lost their jobs, there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

She added that people don’t usually spend so much time together – something that can be “intense” even when you get along with the other person.

“But if there’s conflict, I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is to be stuck there 24-7 and have no outlet.”

Bowes added that abusers may use children as a reason to get angry, stating: “Children, without realising what they’re doing, can nearly trigger incidents by being too loud or not listening, and there are so many opportunities for that to happen now.”

It was recently announced that gardaí will make calls to victims who have reported domestic abuse in the past under a new initiative to protect families during the Covid-19 crisis

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Órla Ryan

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