Breaking The Silence: Domestic Abuse Conference Shines Light On Prevention & Support

27th November 2023
Domestic Violence Conference

The South Eastern and Southern Trust Areas Domestic & Sexual Violence and Abuse Partnerships have hosted a  powerful Domestic Homicide Reviews Conference to mark the 16 day campaign against domestic abuse.

The conference brought together a diverse range of speakers who all have expertise in the field of Domestic Abuse and those who have lost a loved one as a consequence of Domestic Abuse, addressing the urgent need for collective action.

Domestic Abuse knows no boundaries and can affect all members of society regardless of age, gender, religious affiliation, race or social status. It can start in pregnancy right through to old age and impact on a person’s mental health and well-being throughout their life course. The statistics around the prevalence of Domestic Abuse in NI are staggering. Collectively we can do more to address it.

Families who also lost a loved one courageously shared their tragic and emotional experiences.

The conference addressed various aspects of Domestic Abuse including the impact on children, women and men living with Domestic Abuse in the family home, the role of law enforcement in combating this societal issue alongside advising on lessons identified from local and national Domestic Abuse homicides.

There was also a focus on the use of technology and social media to coercively control victims.  A customised bus that provides a space for workshops for local school aged children was brought over to the conference from England by the WOW Foundation (Women of the World).  The pupils that participated had the opportunity to discuss healthy relationships and resilience.

Speaking at the conference, South Eastern Trust Chief Executive, Roisin Coulter said, “It is important that we work collectively together to maximise our knowledge, skills and resources. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of supporting children and young people who have lived experiences of domestic abuse to safeguard them and protect their mental health.

“Domestic Abuse is a societal issue, requiring a public health response in which all adult members of society need to be proactive and support each other to reduce the prevalence of abuse and support victims. “

Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Public Protection Branch, provided valuable insights into the prevalence of Domestic Abuse in Northern Ireland.

Lindsay added, “As an organisation we remain committed to working with partners to continuously enhance knowledge and awareness on domestic abuse to support victims and increase criminal justice outcomes. Domestic Abuse, in all its forms, has no place in our society and tackling these crimes remains one of Police Service of Northern Ireland’s top priorities.

“Domestic Abuse can happen to anyone, although unfortunately we know that women and girls in Northern Ireland are disproportionately affected by violence, abuse and intimidation. 70 per cent of all Domestic Abuse reported to us relating to abuse against women and girls and this is still underreported.

“We would encourage anyone who is suffering at the hands of an abusive partner or family member or worried about someone who might be, to please report to the Police on 101 or in an emergency always dial 999. We know it is difficult to take that first brave step in coming forward, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Domestic Abuse is not the victim’s fault and we are here to help you.”

Sector Manager for Safeguarding Children & Chair of the South Eastern Area Domestic & Sexual Violence and Abuse Partnership, Sheila Simons thanked everyone for attending the conference and said, “We are grateful to all the partner organisations who attended today and to those who contributed towards this very powerful conference addressing Domestic Abuse in our society”

“We are committed as a partnership in continuing our efforts against Domestic Violence through education, awareness raising, advocacy and influencing policy and legislative changes so we are better enabled to end Domestic Abuse.”

Assistant Director of  Family Support & Safeguarding and Chair of the Southern Area Domestic & Sexual Violence and Abuse Partnership,  Donna Murphy noted, “The valuable work of the Partnerships and all key agencies in tackling Domestic Abuse and providing support to victims of Domestic Abuse when they are in need. Today’s conference marks a key milestone opportunity for agencies to ensure Domestic Violence is a key priority across all departments and organisations and in working together, we can achieve so much to eliminate Domestic Abuse within our society”

The 16 day campaign runs from 25 November 2023 (International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls) through to 10 December 2023, (International Human Rights Day).