Laois domestic abuse and rape crisis supports still in place despite Covid-19

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois domestic abuse and rape crisis support services have added their voices to a major new campaign to tackle domestic violence.

The campaign seeks to reassure victims that services are ‘still here’, and that victims are being prioritised during the COVID-19 emergency.

Anne Kirwan Finn from the Rape Crisis Network outlined how they can help.

"We support survivors of sexual violence in their healing and in the hard times. For many survivors the emergency brings added stress on top of their trauma, this is why in Carlow & South Leinster Rape Crisis Centre we are still here for you. We are delighted to support the campaign,” she said.

Marna Carroll spoke on behalf of Laois Domestic Abuse Service which is part of Safe Ireland. She welcomed the new TV, radio and social media advertising campaign.

“We welcome the timely, new Government awareness and information campaign on domestic violence, called Still Here. The most important message is that we are open and working to help protect women and children here in (county) Covid-19 brings challenges but we are re-configuring and finding new, creative ways to help keep women safe.

“During Covid-19 we are being reminded that we are all in this together. The response to domestic violence can be no different. This campaign is also asking people to be vigilant, to keep in touch with friends and family, to be aware that homes may not be safe, and to be a voice in looking for support at a time when a survivor is not able to use hers because of being isolated or controlled with an abuser,” she said

The campaign features new ads developed by the Department of Justice and Equality who collaborated with frontline services. They depict the reality for victims of domestic abuse when their home is no longer a safe place. One of the radio ads depicts a mother trying to reassure her child that their effort to hide from their abuser is just a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ while the other features a male victim trying to communicate his plight to the emergency services. The TV ad meanwhile portrays a woman’s attempt to keep in contact with her friend through a video call being interrupted by her abusive partner.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan spoke about the campaign.

“We would all like if these scenarios were fictitious or exaggerated but sadly, they aren’t. They conjure up a strong sense of the victims feeling trapped. The very place we have all been sent for safety because of COVID-19 – ‘home’ - is anything but safe for some people, and these ads recognise that. However, It is vital that victims realise that services are still there and the law is on their side.

“I also want to say, unequivocally, to all abusers that the rigours of the law are also ‘still here’. There is nowhere for perpetrators to hide. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has made the point on a number of occasions recently that Gardaí are prioritising domestic abuse. The same is the case for the entire civil and criminal justice system. We stand together with our partners in the community and voluntary sector in our support for victims of domestic and sexual violence during this difficult period,” he said.

The Department has provided an additional allocation of over €196,000 to community and voluntary groups to support their work and is also funding the making and airing of the ad.

Information on services and supports for victims is available on a new website www.stillhere.ie