Inequality in the home the ‘root’ of domestic violence, says expert

Family home a place of coercion for some women, according to Safe Ireland chief executive

‘We have to be clear that we want equality in the home – not homes where dominance prevails. This is the root of all violence’ Sharon O’Halloran said

Inequality within the family home has to be addressed if domestic violence is to be tackled, a leading expert on the issue has warned.

Sharon O'Halloran, chief executive of Safe Ireland, said the family home was the last institution that needed to be opened up to scrutiny as a place of violence and coercion for some women and children.

Speaking at a photocall to announce Europe’s first international summit on domestic violence – happening in Dublin on October 22nd and 23rd – she said radical new approaches were needed to tackle the problem, as “what we’re doing isn’t working anymore”.

“We are looking for innovative and key responses that address the root causes of this violence which is inequality – inequality in the home . . . I think the home is the last institution in Ireland that we have to open up. We don’t have in Ireland a culture of talking about what is happening behind closed doors. It’s still seen as a private matter.


“We have to be clear that we want equality in the home – not homes where dominance prevails. This is the root of all violence.”

Safe World summit

Speakers at next month's Safe World summit include Lynn Rosenthal, former White House advisor during the Obama administration on gender-based violence, Robert Jensen author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men, and Dr Edith Eger (92) holocaust survivor, author and clinical psychologist.

Emma Murphy (29), who three years ago posted a video of herself following a beating by her then partner, will also speak.

She said on Thursday it was not until she saw her bruised face in the mirror that she realised the violence she was enduring was “unacceptable”.

In the video Ms Murphy, a mother of two young children, says: “No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman . . . I’ve had the courage to walk away and go straight to my family and friends and people who love me . . . and do something about it this time.

“For it to happen once is unacceptable but to be made feel it is acceptable is even worse, to be mentally tortured and told you’re paranoid and insecure – that’s mental torture.”

The video has since been viewed 10 million times on Facebook, and almost one million on YouTube.

Kathleen Chada, whose sons Eoghan (10) and Ruairí (5) were murdered by their father Sanjeev in 2013, will also speak at the summit. She is campaigning for greater awareness of the victims in sentencing and parole policies.

“It almost feel like the real victims are gone and forgotten. We are here, we need a voice and we need to be a part of change.

“At the moment somebody with a life sentence can actually apply for parole after seven years. That’s just wrong.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times