Wednesday 18 July 2018

'I lost consciousness and then he assaulted my friend... she ended up hospitalised as well' - domestic abuse survivor

Warning: This article contains details that some readers may find distressing

Jessica Bowes, a survivor of domestic violence at the launch of the Women's Aid Impact Report 2017 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin Pic:Mark Condren
Jessica Bowes, a survivor of domestic violence at the launch of the Women's Aid Impact Report 2017 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin Pic:Mark Condren
Jessica Bowes, a survivor of domestic violence and presenter Miriam O'Callaghan at the launch of the Women's Aid Impact Report 2017 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin Pic:Mark Condren
Jessica Bowes, a survivor of domestic violence and presenter Miriam O'Callaghan at the launch of the Women's Aid Impact Report 2017 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin Pic:Mark Condren

Rachel Farrell

A mother-of-three who was beaten and abused by her ex-boyfriend has called on the government for increased support for victims of domestic abuse.

Jessica Bowes said she has asked the government to put "serious consideration" into a no-contact order for victims and their abusers.

"There’s no follow up, I didn’t get any offer of counselling. There was no victim support offered to me. The only bit of support I got was from Women’s Aid," she told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1.

"I think when somebody has been abusive towards you, you should be entitled to say ‘I don’t want any contact with you, you are abusing me and I don’t want you to contact me again’."

Jessica shared her testimony of abuse with Miriam on PrimeTime in February, and again at the Against The Odds event last week to launch the Women’s Aid Impact Report 2017.

The report showed that 21,241 women contacted Women’s Aid directly for help in 2017. Almost 50 women called Women’s Aid every day for help, and their website received 129,535 visits during the year.

Jessica Bowes with Jonathan McSherry (34), of Cedarbrook Walk, Cherry Orchard, Dublin
Jessica Bowes with Jonathan McSherry (34), of Cedarbrook Walk, Cherry Orchard, Dublin

In 2015, Jessica was beaten and left for dead by her ex-boyfriend Jonathan McSherry. After securing a restraining order in 2014, McSherry hid in her garden and waited for Jessica to return from a Christmas party when the vicious assault occurred.

"He didn’t even give me the opportunity to get out of the car, to speak to him or insult him.

"But the fact that somebody had dropped me home was enough for him to just lose the plot and go absolutely mental. He jumped on the bonnet of the car before anyone could say two words to him, he smashed the windscreen of the car with his fist.

"I said to the driver ‘just drive’ because I knew better than anyone what was coming. I had a feeling he was going to kill somebody.

"He tried to pull off but he dragged him out of the car and assaulted the driver. Myself and my friend were in the back of the car, she was out with me that night and was supposed to stay with me.

"We ran out to try help the driver because he was lying on the ground, when he just punched me," Jessica continued.

Jessica Bowes, a survivor of domestic violence and presenter Miriam O'Callaghan at the launch of the Women's Aid Impact Report 2017 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin
Pic:Mark Condren
Jessica Bowes, a survivor of domestic violence and presenter Miriam O'Callaghan at the launch of the Women's Aid Impact Report 2017 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin Pic:Mark Condren

"I lost consciousness and then he assaulted my friend, and she ended up hospitalised as well. I went to try help her and he kicked me and sent me flying backwards.

"He was standing over me and holding me by the hair and must’ve punched me about 10 times in the face. Every time he did it I could feel a burn that was getting stronger with every punch.

"I could feel where the cracks were, my face was so swollen it just blew out.

"I couldn’t see then and he threw me in the grass as the other girl tried to run away. He was like an animal; he was just trying to kill anything that moved. This went on for about 10 minutes between myself and the other girl."

Jessica eventually managed to drag herself to her neighbour’s house, who called for an ambulance.

"The guards came and took a statement from me, and at 5 o’clock that morning they arrested him in my estate. He was waiting for me to be discharged.

"In his own head he must have thought they were going to put a stitch in my eyebrow and send me home, but I had to have surgery on my face to fix my cheekbone because it was shattered.

"I thought I was going to die. I knew, if he hit my head one more time I’d be gone. I had to go to court on the Monday because he applied for bail.

"I didn’t even have the privacy of a private court or family court. I should never have been put through that on top of everything else. I was very vulnerable, very scared, and I was made sit among criminals, it was just awful."

Anyone experiencing domestic violence are encouraged to call Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900.

You can also access the website here

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