“I was curled into a ball on the floor, bruised and aching all over from the kicking. I was four months pregnant with our first child but had another miscarriage only four months ago. I was afraid to move in case he would start all over again, but I needed to check if this baby was alright. I had been so delighted leaving the Doctor’s surgery earlier today, could hardly wait for him to come home from work to tell him the wonderful news. I didn’t see the first slap coming, its force knocking me to the ground. He had said that I was trying to trap him, that he knew I had been having an affair and this baby wasn’t his. He called me a prostitute. Despite the force of his foot making contact with my back and head, some instinct took hold of me and I curled into a ball to protect the baby that he was determined to destroy. He tore the phone from the wall so that I couldn’t get help and left the house. Later when I lost my baby, he told me that I was useless and that my pathetic body couldn’t even carry a child. I never saw a doctor” – Susan
“We fell madly in love really quickly. He had a very successful career in farming and I was treated to the very best. When we married things deteriorated. I used to work as a nurse but my confidence is gone, shredded to pieces. When my first two children were small, he refused to help in feeding and changing them. I became exhausted from the constant demands and lack of help. I could not rely on him to be back on time to allow me to go into work and I received verbal and written warnings about my time keeping and my absenteeism. I covered the bruises, told people I had fallen over toys, banged my head on kitchen door, fallen down the stairs. My concentration dropped and I found it really difficult to focus on the demands of my job. The physical assaults became more frequent. After he hit me he would take the car keys and call the house repeatedly to check I was still there. I could take the shouting and cursing at me but it was seeing the confusion on the children’s faces that I find the hardest. I left my job soon after as I just couldn’t manage to do everything, I felt ashamed at how I must look to people- clumsy, stupid, lazy, incompetent. I told no one about what was happening because I had been told he would kill me and the children one by one if I did tell. By this time we have five children and to everyone we look “the ideal family”. Tom is very critical of us all but specifically the oldest girl and I do the best I can to prevent him doing the same to her as he had to me. The eldest girl is superb at her studies but she doesn’t have many friends and is very shy. We go everywhere together; the children are extremely well behaved and always well dressed. What they don’t see is how it’s Tom who buys the food and clothes. He eats the very best of food and I manage to make several days meals from the cheapest of minced meat and sausages. The children accept my explanation that I prefer to have my dinner earlier with them. I explain that Dad likes pork chops and that’s why he always has a different dinner to them. You don’t want them to see that most of your own meals consist of tea, bread and jam. How could you explain to them that you have asked their Dad to bring more food as they are growing and need more? How would you tell them that he said “No”? We survive but that is all.
How could anyone understand that your husband does all the shopping, even for your most intimate personal hygiene items, that you never have any money, not even enough to buy a postage stamp? Who would listen if you tried to explain how your husband, a wealthy farmer, a pillar of society in the community, controls the entire family? Where would I begin? Who could I tell?“ – Nadine
“The children aren’t screaming. Everything is quiet, except for a tiny whimper. It’s your youngest child, huddled with his brother and sisters in an upstairs bedroom. Even at 4 years of age he has learned not to draw attention to himself by crying out loudly. They should be used to this by now but every time it happens it seems to affect them more. You have always tried your best to reassure them, you hide the bruises, tidy the place up and tell them that Daddy isn’t cross with them, that he is angry with you because you forgot to do something he’d asked you to do. One of the children is also angry with you. “It’s all your fault, why don’t you do what he wants so he won’t be angry?” she shouts.
You realise it’s time for you and the children to leave in order to protect them. He has threatened that if you ever tried to leave he would tell the Social Worker’s that you are an unfit mother and that he will make sure he gets custody of the children. You know that he can afford the best solicitor money can buy. You have 4 children, no transport, nowhere to go, and no money for food. You feel trapped.” – Martina
Imagine that you are the abused person in any of the stories. These stories are about real women and children.
Thankfully West Cork Women Against Violence Project is able to provide support and information to women in such situations. Imagine how important the support and information they received was in enabling them to make decisions about their and their children’s future.
This is where YOU can make a difference. You can make a difference as Fathers, Mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. We can all make a difference by challenging violence against women whether it is physical, mental, financial or emotional. As a community we can break the silence that has condoned abuse. You can help by lobbying local politicians to put pressure on the Government to put funding in place to enable services like the West Cork Women Against Violence Project to continue their services to vulnerable women and children.