Victims of domestic violence this week shared harrowing details of their own abuse at a conference held in Derry.
The Domestic Abuse, Violence Safety conference took place at the City Hotel on Wednesday morning, June 12.
Speakers included Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council Michaela Boyle, Director at Family Mediation NI Joan Davis, Policing and Community Safety Partnership Chairperson Sandra Duffy and La Dolce Vita Project (LDVP) Coordinator of Services, Donna Maria Logue.
Powerful personal accounts of domestic violence were shared by two young women on the day.
One tearful victim recalled contemplating suicide after she was sexually assaulted.
Now on the road to recovery, she said: “I can’t thank Me4Mental, LDVP and Victim Support NI enough. They showed me I can be strong through everything.
“Their support has been incredible; they have given me my life back.”
The other young woman shared graphic images of injuries sustained at the hands of her abuser. Photos showed stitches on her nose from a stabbing incident, an indent on her forehead and two black eyes from getting her “head kicked in”.
She also spoke of the same ex-partner “suffocating” and “strangling” her unconscious.
Through counselling she has been “empowered” and said that back then she couldn’t have imagined speaking openly about her experiences to a room full of strangers.
She now intends on using her reflexology qualification to help other victims at LDVP.
“He won many years of my life, but no more. I hope I will be helping others who have been abused.
“Thank you La Dolce Vita, you helped save my life,” she added.
In the twelve months from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019 there were 31,682 domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland, an increase of 5.9 per cent on the previous 12 months and the highest financial year figure recorded since the start of the data series in 2004/05.
In the Derry and Strabane area there were 3,100 incidents in 2018/19, a rise of 20 from the previous year. Of this, 1,475 crimes were deemed to have been committed, an increase of 107.
Speaking at yesterday’s conference, Miss Donna Maria Logue, spoke of her pride in being able to build the charity and help victims of domestic abuse.
In a heartfelt presentation she spoke of the overwhelming ordeal that too often faces victims reporting domestic abuse and seeking support.
Victims are bombarded with questions which can make them relive the torment. And “barriers” can be placed in front of them forcing individuals to question their own decision-making.
Ms Logue said that is why La Dolce Vita Project first and foremost meets those affected by domestic abuse in a safe place and allows them to share their thoughts and feelings freely.
“A victim can’t leave until they are ready which is why we need to focus on the emotional and mental well-being of the person in front of us.”
Politicians in the room were urged to highlight parental and grand-parental alienation which she described as a “human rights and child abuse issue” that must be addressed.
Parental alienation is the process, and the result, of psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members.
It is a distinctive form of psychological abuse and family violence, towards both the child and the rejected family members, that occurs almost exclusively in association with family separation or divorce, particularly where legal action is involved.
Social workers in England have been given new guidelines to help deal with such cases and La Dolce Vita Project has appealed for it to be introduced in Northern Ireland.
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