Belfast Telegraph

Graphic illustration of brutality

Editor's Viewpoint

Many readers will be shocked by the photograph on the front page of this newspaper today. It shows in graphic detail the injuries suffered by Terri-Louise Graham in a brutal and unforgivable assault on her by her partner. We did not take the decision to publish this photograph easily. It is certainly not being used gratuitously, but rather in recognition of the bravery of the Londonderry woman who supplied it to us.

It also shows the reality of what domestic abuse can look like. Admittedly Terri-Louise's experience of physical, sexual and mental abuse is at the high end of this type of crime, but she is not alone in facing the horror of being attacked viciously by a partner.

The latest PSNI statistics show that there were 27,000 reports of domestic abuse logged last year. Terri-Louise's experience is like that of many other battered women trapped in a relationship with someone they once loved, but later grew to fear. Yet she often tried to hide the horror of what she was going through. However, after the last particularly brutal assault she found the courage to testify against him and now is waiting to see what sentence will be passed on her former partner.

For those who think that domestic abuse is just a minor offence, look again at our front page photograph. Police are now beginning to use body mounted cameras to investigate such crimes which will provide real-time evidence which can be used in court and which may increase the number of convictions for domestic abuse.

Those who have never experienced domestic abuse may wonder why any victim would continue to suffer in silence. But it does happen, perhaps through fear or even a misguided sense of loyalty. We often don't know what goes on behind closed doors. What the statistics show is that many homes are not havens of harmony, but rather the scenes of unspeakable cruelty. We hope that Terri-Louise's brave testimony will encourage other women to speak out and put their abusers behind bars.

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