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“If I were a stronger woman, he wouldn’t dare hit me…”

Our Domestic Abuse Service Manager, Dr Carol Baumann, writes about the strength and resilience of women who survive domestic abuse as we mark International Women’s Day this Friday, 8th March.

At our Domestic Abuse Service, we meet women from all walks of life who find themselves needing support and advice because of an abusive partner.  Almost without exception, each woman blames herself; she is sure she somehow caused the abuse to happen. She will have been conditioned by her partner into thinking and believing that she is to blame as she searches for clues as to what she did wrong, what flaws lie in her soul and how can she make things better.

What a woman who is abused does not see is the very first thing we notice when we meet her – her strength.

There are many forms of strength: physical, emotional, mental. There is the muscular strength of the athlete, the fervent passion of the campaigner or the strength it takes to survive an abusive relationship.  Often we don’t know our own strength – that is until we are tested.

Every day, we see a woman with amazing survival skills who manages – despite the constant knock backs and put downs – to get up every morning and get the children out to school, put food on the table and manage a household with meagre resources.

Or a woman who manages to keep down a job or continue with her education despite living under siege, where her every movement is monitored or controlled and where her access to money is determined by her partner. Women who are constantly walking on egg shells and whose safety is under threat, often to the point that she is fearful of sleeping … just in case.

To survive and to function in these circumstances, to manage each day to present a smiling face to her children and to the world, takes incredible reserves of strength and resilience. 

Contrary to being weak, a woman who is abused is strong and extremely resourceful.  And this inherent strength and resilience in her character is what will eventually forge the path out of the relationship, and into a new life.

Working with COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service offers us a window to the best of humanity – women who use our service are survivors and have stoicism, dignity and compassion in abundance.  They dig deep to these reserves, and come out on top – free and without bitterness.

As we mark International Women’s Day in 2019, let’s take a moment to salute the women in our community who persevere and overcome difficult situations; the one in five women in Ireland who find themselves in an abusive relationship – our daughters, our sisters, our friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Our imminent move to Modh Eile House, our new home on Forster Street, will be fortified by the strength of these women, each seeking another way of life for her and her children. Once they are given the time and space away from their abusers these women will continue to grow in strength with the help and support of the community of Galway.

In 2018, COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service supported 457 women – much achieved with your support.  Let’s work together to make our city and county a safe place for our families.

COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service, currently based at Waterside House in Galway, is the only 24 hour accessible refuge in the Western region.  It provides refuge accommodation, information, support and court accompaniment to women and their children experiencing domestic abuse. There is an outreach service for women in the city and county who are in abusive relationships and who need support and information on their options.

If you are concerned about your own situation or that of someone you love, please phone us confidentially on 091 565 985 (24h).

You can also go to our Domestic Abuse Services section for further information and to download our Safety Planning Guide.

Be Safe. Be Believed. Be Supported.

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