Belfast Telegraph

Domestic violence: Mum who fled thug husband after 22 years urges others to report abuse

By Deborah McAleese

A woman who suffered 22 years of domestic violence before finally escaping has urged other victims to report their abuse.

Nine years after finally fleeing from her abusive husband when he threatened to murder her and their children as they slept, the mother-of-four said she wanted to help stop others from going through the hell that she had endured.

"Stand up for yourself, walk away and don't look back," said the woman, who wanted to be known only as Louise.

"It took me 22 long years to do it, but I got there. I'm telling my story because of what I have been through and the kids have been through. I wouldn't want anyone else going through that."

Louise, who said her life changed the night she contacted police for help, yesterday helped launch the PSNI's Christmas domestic abuse campaign to encourage victims to report abuse.

The campaign follows the Belfast Telegraph's End The Silence series last week to raise awareness of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.

Our series identified a number of gaps in the system that need addressed to better tackle the problem.

Over the past year almost 28,000 incidents were reported to the PSNI.

This is an increase on previous years, but police believe a large number of incidents are still going unreported.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said that domestic abuse increased over Christmas.

He also said that the PSNI responded to one incident of domestic abuse every 19 minutes.

"This is a frightening statistic. However, we still believe that a large number of domestic incidents are unreported," he said.

Mr Hamilton added: "We know that domestic abuse is a frightening crime which can affect anyone, both women and men. Very often victims are isolated.

"No one should have to endure abuse and I want to encourage all victims of domestic abuse to come forward and report the matter to the police."

A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence now or in the past on 0808 802 1414. The PSNI said that anyone suffering from domestic abuse should contact their local police on the non-emergency 101, or in an emergency always call 999.

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