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Sunday 25 August 2019

More rape victims reporting coercive control after radio interview by Clodagh's mum

Clodagh Hawe with her sister Jacqueline Connolly
Clodagh Hawe with her sister Jacqueline Connolly
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

The moving testimony of Clodagh Hawe's family on coercive control has led to an increasing number of sexual assault and rape survivors revealing that they too have been victims of this crime.

Clodagh's mother Mary Coll and her sister Jacqueline Connolly gave a powerful interview on 'Claire Byrne Live' on RTÉ in February, a month after legislation made coercive control an offence.

Ms Hawe (39) was murdered along with her children, Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6), by her husband Alan Hawe (40) on August 29, 2016, at their home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. The killer then took his own life.

In that watershed interview, Ms Coll said: "There was a control element... he had this silent presence. He could stand five foot away but you would know that he was in control."

Since that interview and since the law was introduced in January making coercive control a criminal offence, more callers to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) have reported they have been subjected to such control.

Chief executive of the centre, Noeline Blackwell, told the Irish Independent: "Regarding calls in relation to sex offences, definitely for many of the callers, they are victims of coercive control.

"When we look at rape cases, we do get calls on coercive control and this is so firmly in the context of domestic violence.

"But given we are only at the end of April, it will take time to build up evidence and cases for the people saying they are victims of coercive control," she added.

Ms Blackwell said right up until the legislation was introduced in January, survivors had realised they were suffering as a result of control but it could not be pinned down as a crime.

Now, under the Domestic Violence Act 2018, a pattern of intimidation or humiliation involving psychological or emotional abuse is an offence.

Meanwhile, Ms Blackwell welcomed an additional €1.5m in funding for services supporting domestic and sexual violence survivors.

The funds, from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, represented a 10pc increase in funding for the DRCC, Ms Blackwell said.

However, Cliona Saidléar, executive director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said she believed some facilities may actually have witnessed "cuts" in their funding.

"We're not clear if Minister Zappone's announcement does not constitute a funding cut," she told the Irish Independent.

"The minister's announcement was out of the blue, no one was consulted and we don't know what it means for each centre."

A Tusla spokesman told the Irish Independent the minister's funding announcement was "in addition to the funding already being provided by Tusla".

A department spokesman said: "The 10pc increase in core funding to the 16 rape crisis centres in 2019 is based on the previous core funding provided to these centres in 2016."

Irish Independent

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