‘You don’t need a bruise to be abused’
Fine Gael Seanad Community Spokesperson, Jerry Buttimer, has today (Thursday) called for the criminal justice system to be overhauled so that protection is afforded to those suffering from physical and emotional domestic abuse.
“I have spoken to numerous male and female victims of abuse across the country who have seen barring orders being breached and, as a consequence, spend their days and nights living in fear. I have heard stories of victims having to put their children under the bed or up in the attic at four am before going downstairs to face their abuser. This is an unacceptable way for any person to live. It is incumbent on us, as legislators, to provide those who are abused with hope, with a way out and, most importantly, with the knowledge that the law is there to protect them and their children.
“The slogan of Mná Feasa, a group in Cork that provides a support system to women who are being abused, is ‘You don’t need a bruise to be abused’ and while physical abuse is sometimes easier to identify, emotional abuse very often goes undetected. No one should have to suffer in silence: man, woman or child. Those who are abused deserve not just respect but the care, support and protection of the courts. It is time we stopped merely debating such matters and set about ensuring adequate safeguards are in place to defend those in need. In this the courts have a major role to play.
“Where the terms of barring orders are breached, there should be no second chance. Such orders are granted for a specific reason. If we amend the Domestic Violence Act, we will have done a great service for women, in particular, but also for male victims of abuse. Reform of the criminal justice system is long overdue.
“As someone who taught religion for nearly 20 years, who spent many years in Maynooth doing pastoral work and who is very involved in the community, Article 5 of the United Declaration on Human Rights, which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, resonates strongly with me.
“This Government has hidden behind the words ‘cost saving’ and ‘cuts’ for far too long. Where domestic abuse is concerned these phrases cannot and must not be used. We must act, and soon, to provide those who are living in an abusive relationship or environment the hope of a better tomorrow and the reality of a day without abuse.”