Rising number of women abused by ex-partners
LEGAL PROTECTION is needed for women who date but are not living with abusive men, domestic violence charity Women’s Aid said yesterday.
The charity says it is seeing large numbers of younger women who break up with boyfriends and find themselves the subject of abuse.
The Domestic Violence Act 1996, amended in 2002, allows victims of domestic violence to obtain safety, barring or protection orders against partners. Victims however must be married or have been living with their abuser for six out of the previous 12 months to qualify.
According to the charity, the loophole leaves women who have dated abusive men in a vulnerable position.
Director Margaret Martin said often, very early on, a woman realised she did not want to stay in a relationship and broke up with that person, but he would not accept it.
“Then they find themselves dealing with somebody who is stalking them, who is threatening them, who is texting them and who is getting on Facebook and sometimes saying very malicious things about them,” she said.
An ex-boyfriend who was abusive may know what a woman’s interests were, where she worked, what time she got get the Dart and he could be there, Ms Martin said.
“Your friends may think what are you going on about, you just met him on the street? But it’s a pattern that keeps happening,” she said. “If you’re in college and he’s always waiting outside the door after a lecture, that is threatening.”
New technology has made the situation worse for some women and they find themselves bombarded with texts. The messages may seem harmless and mean nothing to others, such as “saw you coming out of a lecture, new haircut looks good”, Ms Martin said.
Even old-fashioned sentiments like “be mine, always be mine2”, could be innocent, but may be very threatening. Accumulated, the subtext is “I know where you are, don’t think you can avoid me.”
“If the cohabitation requirements that are currently in the legislation were removed, that would give women protection,” Ms Martin added.
The charity released balloons outside Leinster House yesterday as part of a nationwide “Solidarity Balloon Action” to mark the first day of its One in Five Women 16 Days of Action campaign, which continues until December 10th.
It highlights that one woman in five in Ireland lives in fear of those closest to them; their boyfriends, husbands and partners. The launch also coincided with United Nations Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.