Laois Domestic Abuse Centre takes on extra staff to help women escaping abuse

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois Domestic Abuse Centre takes on extra staff to help women escaping abuse

More staff hired to support Laois women escaping domestic abuse

The Laois centre that offers help to women experiencing domestic abuse, has now taken on extra staff, securing its future.

Laois Domestic Abuse Service in Portlaoise is the youngest centre in Ireland, only open 11 years. In that time, low funding has left staff constantly battling to stay open.

Now the child protection agency TUSLA has come on board as a co-funder, allowing the recruitment of a new full time support worker, and a part time administrator in the past two weeks, bringing the staff number to four.

"It has made an enormous difference to our service. You can see the difference in the women. We can offer weekly support appointments rather than fortnightly," said co-ordinator Marna Carroll.

The centre offers confidential counselling, support, and court accompaniments. Last year they supported 275 Laois women escaping abuse.

"They come from all backgrounds, all groups. Abuse doesn't discriminate. They may be experiencing rape or assault in their relationships, being videoed and then those videos held against them as blackmail, exposure to porn they don't want to witness, punched, beaten, pinched, spat at, broken noses, limbs, eye sockets, cigarette burns. Some women turn to self harm to release the pain," Marna said.

Abuse is not necessarily physical.

"They are called every name under the sun, belittled, demeaned, completely degraded," she said.

Their funding cannot stretch to offering counselling to children, or help to men experiencing domestic abuse, which would need a separate meeting rooms and staff, for confidentiality reasons. Neither does Laois yet have its own women's refuge centre, read story here.

"I would say to women experiencing abuse, please call and talk to us. I know it's hard, embarrassing and people are afraid, but the biggest improvements come when you talk to a professional service," Marna said.

Call Laois Domestic Abuse at 8671100. See full report in next Tuesday's Leinster Express.