A STRABANE woman who works with victims of domestic abuse has welcomed a new scheme designed to make sufferers more aware of a partner’s violent history.
The initiative – known as the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) – allows concerned family and friends to request the PSNI to carry out history checks on potential perpetrators. It became legislation in Northern Ireland at the start of this week. A similar initiative, known as Clare’s Law, was introduced in England and Wales in 2014 and Scotland in 2016.
As a housing support officer in Strabane, Teresa Gallagher helps victims of domestic abuse come to terms with life outside of their abuser. She feels the new law is a step in the right direction.
“I am very keen to raise awareness of the law,” she said. “It is certainly a step in the right direction, and helps both male and female victims see who they are involved with before it’s too late.
“I deal with many victims of domestic abuse at Dillon Court, a sheltered housing complex in the town.
“Low self esteem is a common trait of the abused, and many are dealing with the breakdown of a home and a family along with being completely downtrodden by years of abuse. We try to build up people’s worth and prepare them for a life after.”
With this, Teresa feels that the new law along with a television campaign aimed at highlighting domestic violence means more people than ever are talking about the topic.
“Victims have been given more of a voice in recent times, and we need to continue this. In comparison to the last generation, things have come on substantially for victims of abuse. In the previous generation victims often had no financial power and speaking out about domestic abuse was frowned upon. Today, victims have the power to lead their own lives and are better placed to get out of an ugly situation.”
Teresa is encouraging anyone who has concerns about a partner to use the new legislation to look at a partner’s history and to report violence as soon as it occurs.
“Repeat offending is prolific, and an abuser will often find new victims and start the cycle over again. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to report, report, report.
“People everywhere have to know their worth, and I feel the more education is offered on the subject, whether it be in schools, on the television or through legislation the better. No-one should feel they are under control or have to suffer in silence.”
Posted: 11:50 am April 8, 2018