Belfast Telegraph

Caroline Crossan's grieving mum in 'get help' appeal to battered women

By Donna Deeney

The mother of a woman murdered by her husband made an impassioned plea to victims of domestic violence to seek help while they still can.

Caroline Crossan died at the hands of her husband 16 years ago after suffering horrendous abuse in silence.

Caroline's mother Bridie McGrellis implored victims to take the support and help on offer.

She made her comments as Foyle Women's Aid (FWA) in Londonderry prepare to open a new centre for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Ms McGrellis said her daughter never made the call to FWA and ultimately lost her life.

She said she does not want the same to happen to anyone else's daughter.

The still-grieving mother said: "Caroline is still in my mind 24 hours a day and what that man did to her is there as well.

"I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone else.

"No human being should suffer the way my daughter did and I would plead with any woman who is being abused to have courage and make contact with Foyle Women's Aid.

"I have spoken to other women who, thankfully, did just that and they are the lucky ones.

"I would just say to any woman who is suffering domestic violence that there is fantastic help available and it is life-saving, and the life saved could be yours."

FWA has relaunched its services for women and children, replacing communal refuge with independent living units as well as establishing a co-ordinated support service for victims of domestic violence.

Ashleywood House is a restored period house set in tranquil, leafy grounds in a safe and peaceful location on the outskirts of Derry where FWA offered emergency accommodation for women and children escaping domestic violence.

In response to feedback from clients and advances in the provision of services to victims, FWA decided to close the communal living refuge and convert disused coach houses at the rear of Ashleywood House into independent units for families, now known as Ashleywood Mews.

In partnership with Apex Housing, the coach houses were renovated and extended to provide 12 modern, temporary housing units. Three new bungalows were also built on site.

Marie Brown, director of FWA, said the official opening this week will be the culmination of a long-term vision of the organisation.

"To have a safe place to live where you can be a family is a basic human right," she said.

"We have created a place where women can be empowered to take support to tackle the impact of abuse on themselves and their children, without losing their independence or privacy.

"Changes in the way we provide support were driven by the views of victims of domestic abuse who cited that the loss of their independence and privacy in communal living as a barriers to recovery. The new independent units are a response to this."

The official opening will take place on Friday with Baroness Angela Smith, a peer and former Labour minister, the keynote speaker.

Belfast Telegraph


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