Darragh’s Story – The less visible victim of domestic abuse

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Darragh’s Story – The less visible victim of domestic abuse


We stayed in the refuge for a while. When I was younger, I used to feel scared if we left home, you know, all my familiar surroundings and all. The refuge wasn’t too bad, we did have some fun during the day but it was the night time when I felt sad and upset.

I missed home and the dog and all my friends in my old school. Eventually my dad would contact my mother and work his charm on her and we would go home.

It was ok for a few days, things were happy but eventually it would all start to creep in – the questioning, the control over mum, over us and then the friendly banter with me.

I was probably 12 when I noticed it first. Initially I liked the fact that I was being noticed and I did enjoy our times together. We used to do things together, me and Dad, – even though I
didn’t understand where he was coming from most of the time when he would say that mum was stupid and that the only way to keep her home was to keep her on a short leash.

One day, when I was about 15, I arrived home from school and heard a big argument coming from my house before I got in the door. I hadn’t a clue what was going on but the next thing I knew dad was saying, “oh, here’s the future man of the house and he deserves his dinner ready for him when he gets in from school, isn’t that right son, tell your mam what you think of her”.

I froze and didn’t know what to say.

I could see my mam cowering and looking so upset and my dad getting angrier, shouting, “tell her, tell her you bastard”. The next thing, I felt a sharp pain to the side of my head and my mother’s face had a grey colour and a look of fear and sadness all in one.

That was the last time he laid a finger on any of us. He tried after that to see us by going to court and got access visits – we went once or twice but I just felt so sad and angry. I couldn’t get the feeling of humiliation or anger out of my mind for a long time.

When we moved away I felt angry with my mam – why did she have to argue back, did she not know that he would just get angrier, she of all people? Did she not care about how we felt? Why did we stay all those years? She was the adult, she should have known. I had to give up everything, my home, and my friends and start all over again. Maybe dad was right about her.

COPE Galway works with teenagers like Darragh, offering boys and girls one-to-one or group work sessions and helping them to find a safe space to think, to breathe, to be.

*Name has been change.

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