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Domestic violence group encourage victims to come forward after judge's comments

Women’s Aid underlines the importance of victims being able to seek help, after a judge vents his frustration at victims withdrawing their sworn testimony.

Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire

A GROUP supporting female victims of domestic violence has encouraged sufferers to come forward, saying it is vital that they feel able to engage with support services whenever they need.

The call from Women’s Aid comes after a Monaghan judge vented his frustration at what he perceived to be the time and resources wasted by victims who initiated claims of domestic assault only to then withdraw them later.

A number of newspapers carry comments from Judge Seán MacBride of Monaghan District Court, who said he was “sick to the teeth” of victims of domestic abuse who then withdrew their complaints after “falling into love again”.

Judge MacBride suggested that people who made complaints and later withdrew them should face prosecution for wasting the time of the Gardaí who dealt with them.

Women’s Aid said that while it could not comment on individual cases, it remained “incredibly important” that women who were in abusive relationships should be able to engage with legal and domestic support services as needed.

The group explained that often some victims of abuse later retracted their complaints because they were not ready to leave the relationship, as they still cared for their partners and hoped that their behaviour might change.

Risks of reporting

Victims could also be left with low self-esteem, be scared about their future circumstances, or be ashamed about being the victims of violence – all of which could contribute to their decisions to withdraw their complaints.

“While many women have positive experiences and outcomes when applying for legal protection from domestic violence, we know from our experience that engagement with the legal system can place some women at heightened risk,” a spokesperson said, adding:

Orders such as Safety and Protection Orders, even when granted, may mean the woman continues to live with her abuser. Likewise, even an abusive partner is convicted of assault, he may continue to live in the family home.

If this is the case, the spokeswoman added, the woman could be placed in further danger, as the abuser could be angered by the complaint – further contributing to the possibility that a victim could make a complaint and later withdraw it.

Women who have been the victim of domestic abuse can call Women’s Aid on freephone 1800 341 900, between 10am and 10pm, seven days a week.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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