‘We’re here for you’

An Inishowen organisation which helps sufferers of domestic violence believes one in three women suffer from abuse within the home.

Mary Doherty, co-ordinator and manager of Lifeline Inishowen, told the ‘Journal’ yesterday she believes domestic violence is still a taboo subject in the peninsula and while figures suggest one in five women suffer, she maintains the figure is much closer to one in three.

In association with the international 16 days of activism against gender violence campaign, Lifeline are hosting fundraising events such as bucket collections, a Tea Party in Malin on 3rd December and visiting local women’s groups in Inishowen to help raise awareness of domestic violence.

Involved with Lifeline since its formation 17 years ago, Mary says every story she hears still shocks her.

“Sometimes you think things have moved on then you hear another story. It is proven every day that this service is needed and especially as Inishowen is so rural and women can become very isolated both in their situation and in their areas.”

According to Mary, women in abusive relationships are made to feel they are the ones with a problem.

“We want to let women know we are here for them and we will walk the journey with them, and it won’t be easy but we’ll support them whatever is right for the individual. All types of domestic violence is wrong.”

On average the Lifeline services are used 30 times per week by woman either through the helpline, counselling service, outreach or drop-in centre, a figure which has risen in recent years since the recession has hit Inishowen.

“The recession is not the cause of domestic violence, similar to alcohol, it does not create abuse, it simply escalates it.

“The pressure of the recession, having no money or job, can often bring out the worst in people, but this problem is not confined to Inishowen. Domestic violence is a worldwide problem and there is no town or village in the world without it, it is scary to think about it.”

However, keen to focus on the positivity in the group, Mary says the recession has brought great volunteers forward to the group who are willing to help, some of whom have suffered from domestic violence themselves.

“Often women who have come out the other side want to help others. Currently we have five volunteers on the phones, a counsellor, two admin workers, a cleaner and myself all volunteering.

“It a really great bunch of people and we all support each other, although we are always on the lookout for new members, even if they just want to come in and fundraise and help in any way, we’re open.”

Lifeline Inishowen is open 20 hours per week between 10am - 1.30pm and you can get in touch through the helpline on 0749373232.