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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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Raped, beaten, stalked: One woman’s struggle with ongoing domestic abuse

Despite barring orders, woman says she has been tortured by her ex-partner for almost a decade.

Image: fear via Shutterstock

AROUND 19,510 WOMEN and 19,440 children sought refuge from domestic violence in 2011 and 2012.

Anne* who has been a victim of domestic abuse for the last eight years said some of these women will suffer all of their lives.

“This is going on every single day of the week,” she said. “It’s a horrific life to go through.”

When Anne met her partner she thought “he seemed OK” but when she fell pregnant she started noticing a change in his character.

He became very controlling. I thought he might have been jealous because I was giving so much attention to the baby. But then he started looking for sex even though I had stitches after I had my child… He got verbally abusive and I knew the situation wasn’t right.

Four months after giving birth, a social worker advised Anne to seek refuge. Whilst there she received her first interim barring order against her ex-partner.

“I was advised by a judge to leave the refuge and return home because I had the safety order,” explains Anne. “Some men would be scared of an order, but that would not have phased him at all.”

He found out where Anne and their children were staying and stood outside the door waiting for her to come out. He also managed to pick up her children’s allowance and stalk her family, amongst a long list of other abusive behaviour.

Rape

“It takes a long time to get a barring order and it’s a lot of stress. At that stage he had also raped me, so I knew I couldn’t continue living in my home,” she says.

Following this Anne had no choice but to go back to a refuge where she lived on and off for four years.

“One of my children went to her first ever day of school from a refuge but I was able to give her as normal a life as possible living there,” she said.

Anne said that without the help of services like SAFE Ireland and Women’s Aid she would have been lost.

Refuges are so important. Sometimes there is very little room there but the staff are so supportive and they are there to help you. It helps as well to get your head in order.

Following numerous court appearances for barring orders, which Anne says her ex-partner never heeded, it got to the stage where he was stalking her every move. Although a judge warned her not to, she decided to move from the city to the country.

A judge told me to use my barring order. He said ‘don’t move because there would be people queuing up’ for my house in Dublin, but my home is only made of bricks and mortar. The judge couldn’t understand that I was being tortured every day.

Anne believes that sometimes judges and gardaí don’t have the training to understand what women are going through. “Sometimes gardaí believe that it is just a domestic,” she says.

To tackle the situation, Anne thinks there should be be more serious consequences for abusers. Although her ex-partner doesn’t know where she is living now, he has supervised access to their child, which Anne believes is totally wrong.

If a man breaks the safety order he should not be allowed to see the child because that safety order is there to protect the child as well. These men are getting free legal aid to harass women. They are costing the system a fortune.

Anne still fears for her life but she says she is “stronger now” and that her children are doing well in school.

For anyone who find themselves in a situation of domestic violence she has this advice:

Please get out. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I used to have a lovely home and a nice job but safety is most important.

* Name and some details changed to protect the identity of the victim.

For support, see SAFE Ireland’s list of domestic violence services in your area or call Women’s Aid on 1800 341 900.

Read: Refuge still unopened one year on due to funding issues >

More: Domestic violence victims turned away 2,537 times in 2011 from overcrowded refuges >

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About the author:

Amy Croffey

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