A SENIOR PSNI officer is reassuring victims of domestic abuse that, even during these unprecedented times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, help remains available.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan, from PSNI’s Community Safety Department, said it’s important that anyone who is living with domestic abuse knows they ‘are not alone’ and that they have options to report their abuse.
Assistant Chief Constable McEwan said: “We know this is a really worrying and difficult time for everyone and that a lot of people are spending more time at home, which may lead to stressful situations.
“As your Police Service, it is our job to keep people safe, and that remains our priority despite the challenges during this global emergency.
“Domestic abuse is a crime and, until victims are aware there is a safe environment to share their concerns, they will continue to hold on to the secret of domestic abuse.
“Our role is about prevention, protection and prosecution – to prevent further violence to protect victims, children and other vulnerable people, and to facilitate the prosecution of offenders.
“For victims we know they may now find it harder to leave their homes, but I want you to know help is out there in many forms, and every step of the way, so please come forward and report what is happening to us or through the other services available.
“Please, remember, we are here to listen and to work with our partners to protect and help you.”
Sarah Mason, CEO, Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland, said: “Women's Aid are aware that isolation with have a direct impact on women and children who experience domestic violence and abuse in Northern Ireland. We know that home is often not a safe place and we are concerned that social distancing and self-isolation can be used as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour by those who perpetrate domestic violence and abuse. We have made provisions in order to continue our key frontline work. We have major contingency plans in place by our nine local groups across Northern Ireland in a bid to continue to support women and children.
“Women’s Aid are still providing support; families are in our refuges at this critical time and outreach support is available via multi-communication formats. Women’s Aid across Northern Ireland is made up of nine local groups and Women’s Aid Federation NI. We are continually working together to understand the impact COVID 19 is having on women and children experiencing domestic violence and abuse, and their service provision.”
Rhonda Lusty from Men’s Advisory Project (MAP) said: “Home should be a place where you can feel happy and safe. We know that many men do not feel that way. In fact statistics from the PSNI show that a third of all domestic abuse crime in Northern Ireland happens to men.
“Asking for help is the strongest and bravest move you can take, but it can also be the most frightening.
“We want to reassure you that the Men's Advisory Project is here for you. We have been supporting, listening and helping men for over 20 years. We are here to help you make sense of what is going on - to give you space to make decisions which will help you feel better and that will lead to a safer and happier life again.”
Aisling Twomey from The Rainbow Project said: “It’s important for LGBT people of all ages to be aware of the support available to them whether they are experiencing abuse from a partner, family members or anyone else. There is no acceptable level of abuse and no one should feel that they have to suffer in silence. No matter what you’re going through, we’re here to help.”
To contact police call the non-emergency ‘101’ number or call ‘999’ in an emergency. . We also have the Silent Solutions Service which enables a 999 caller who is too scared to make a noise, or speak, to press 55 when prompted.
A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual abuse, now or in the past, on 0808 802 1414.
Assistant Chief Constable McEwan added: “To anyone suffering domestic abuse I want you to know you still have options to report the abuse you are experiencing, and get the vital help you need to stop it from happening.
“Please remember, you are not alone. Help is always available.”