Colette Fitzpatrick: Why do so many consider abuse of women as none of their business?
They call in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep. Often it’s the first time they’ve told anyone about what happened – what happened when he got angry.
Some say they’re locked in right now, that he has the key and he won’t release them.
Another woman says her partner has taken all her savings. Another says her former partner rapes her in front of their child.
Another drives really fast, threatening to crash and kill them both and the children.
Yet another threatens to kill the children. Another woman has discovered he is molesting the children.
Another was slapped in the face when breastfeeding their baby. Another has a broken nose and broken ribs.
One woman is never called by her name. She’s only ever shouted at. She feels this is her fault.
Another says her ex is refusing to pay maintenance. She struggles to get the basics for her children. This is despite the court order compelling him to do so.
Another has left but has to go back to get her belongings. She’s petrified he’ll be there.
Another will go to the hospital and think about calling the guards.
Another knows everyone else thinks her husband is the best in the world and would probably never believe that he’s really abusive to her and the children.
One man told the children their mother deserved to be punished. A woman says her partner threw her down the stairs in front of the children.
A pregnant woman gets hit in the face by her partner in front of their other child.
Another says her partner beats the children to hurt her, while another says her ex started slapping her daughter on an access visit.
Those are some of the testimonies from women who contacted Women’s Aid last year. They represent an increase of more than 70pc in calls – 44 every day.
The annual report out this week makes for depressing reading. Women said they were hit, beaten with weapons, stabbed, cut with knives and throttled.
Revenge porn was prevalent. Some had explicit videos and images made and shared online without their consent.
This type of violence is nearer than you think. An EU report previously confirmed that one in four Irish women suffer violence.
How many friends do you have? How many women do you know? What if one in four of them were being abused?
Most of us are willing to intervene “only in certain circumstances”.
Those were the key findings of another survey by Cosc – the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
What were the reasons given for not reporting the abuse? Apparently our greatest concern was the feeling that we shouldn’t get involved in other people’s business (88pc).
In other words, far too many of us think domestic abuse is a “private matter”.
When you think that you don’t know someone who was raped in front of their child, that you don’t hang around with someone whose partner is molesting their children or who throws them down the stairs, maybe you do.
Maybe we all do.