Friday 2 December 2016

Heartbreaking dispatches from women living in fear

Of all the letters to her 'Dear Mary' column in this paper, the most worrying are from women experiencing abuse from their partners

Mary O'Connor

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

Tragedy: The remains of Alan Hawe and his three sons Liam, Niall and Ryan are taken into the Church for funeral Mass in Castlerahan earlier this month. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Tragedy: The remains of Alan Hawe and his three sons Liam, Niall and Ryan are taken into the Church for funeral Mass in Castlerahan earlier this month. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The writers tell of a feeling of relief at being able to write it all down, even though the reality of what they have written is awful. Tales of not being allowed have any friends to the house because he doesn't want them around, not being allowed to have a drink at the weekend, being constantly watched and feeling frightened abound, together with stories of major physical abuse and being made to perform unwanted sexual acts.

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However, in the majority of cases - and this is what is so sinister, - these letters are quickly followed by a request not to print them as the writer fears she may be recognised and get more punishment.

One such writer ended by telling me that I would read about her soon if she didn't get away because her life would end. While we do not know the dynamics of Alan and Clodagh Hawe's relationship, and there is only speculation as to what went on, it is undoubtedly true that the murders have raised the issue of spousal abuse in the public consciousness.

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