Belfast Telegraph

Domestic violence debate called for

Almost 100 perpetrators of domestic violence who inflicted physical or emotional abuse on a partner looked for help this year.

An intervention programme which supports victims of abuse while trying to stem the tide of domestic violence has called for a national debate on the issue.

Move (Men Overcoming Violence) said mental and physical abuse behind closed doors can only be addressed by challenging men who believe they can control their partners.

Thomas Bibby, national development officer, said the debate should move from 'why doesn't she leave' to 'why doesn't he stop?'

"To properly address domestic violence we need to address the cause, which is that men believe they can abuse their partners," he said.

"Domestic abuse is a horrific thing and for a man to continually abuse their partner they need to almost kid themselves that this is a normal thing. People tend to think of domestic violence - physical, emotional, sexual and financial - in isolation, but all of them are about control."

Figures show one in seven women in Ireland experience severe domestic violence, with almost 1,993 women and 2,355 children admitted to refuges last year. But hundreds more were turned away because centres were full.

Move claims it puts its head above the parapet by getting both sides of the story and working with a woman while her ex-partner attends group sessions at eight centres around the country. But only half of those referred - either by themselves, a counsellor, doctor or social worker - are eligible for the programme.

"Men who abuse women often blame it on something else, 'I was drunk, she hit me first, she bruises easily' or they'll deny it," added Mr Bibby. He said the men, who come from all classes of society, are not cured of domestic violence but helped to behave differently.

Mr Bibby called for funding for victims of domestic violence to be maintained in Budget cuts as the number of women seeking support from services grows. He said: "We are concerned about cuts in women's service. It is hugely important funding is retained for victims of domestic violence."

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