Today, Health Minister Simon Hamilton visited the Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCL&N) Women’s Aid facility Grace House in Antrim.
Speaking during the visit, Mr Hamilton said: “Everyone should feel safe at home; tragically, many people in Northern Ireland face great danger at home from the people closest to them. Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity or sexuality and it not only impacts on victims, but also their family, friends and the wider society. The impacts can be long-lasting and can ruin lives.
“In spite of the increasing numbers of cases reported to the PSNI, it is widely believed that many more cases of domestic violence remain unreported. Unfortunately, victims often endure long periods of intimidation, abuse or violence at the hands of someone they love before they feel able to seek help, which makes tackling the problem much more difficult.”
The framework for the response to domestic violence in Northern Ireland was developed through the domestic violence strategy “Tackling Violence at Home”, published in October 2005. A new regional Strategy “Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse in Northern Ireland” is currently under development.
ABCL&N Women’s Aid’s Grace House is a drop-in centre for women needing help and advice on issues including their safety and security needs, housing and money. In April 2013, the Cornerstone Building was added to the site. This facility is dedicated to providing services and support to children and young people who have been impacted upon by domestic violence.
The Minister continued: “We want to live in a society where domestic violence and abuse are no longer tolerated, where the home is a place of safety. For decades now, Women’s Aid staff and volunteers have devoted themselves to this goal, to making homes safe again. The support they have provided to victims and their families and friends across Northern Ireland has been invaluable.
“Strong relationships between the public and voluntary & community sectors deliver tangible benefits to victims and their families. The success of Grace House and the Cornerstone Building is a testimony to that. My Department and the Health and Social Care Trusts have had a long and fruitful relationship with both the Women’s Aid Federation and local Women’s Aid branches for many years now.
"I remain firmly committed to tackling domestic violence in Northern Ireland and I believe that partnership-working between government bodies, voluntary organisations and charities is the most effective way to do this.”
The Minister concluded: “I want to acknowledge the dedication of the staff and volunteers of ABCL&N Women’s Aid. Whether in Grace House, the Cornerstone Building or further afield, their commitment to supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse in this area has seen many broken lives rebuilt and I wish them all every success in the future.”
Notes to editors:
- Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCL&N) Women’s Aid is one of nine local Women’s Aid groups operating throughout Northern Ireland with the support of the Women’s Aid Federation NI. More details can be found on their website.
- Tackling Violence at Home
- PSNI statistics indicate that there were 28,287 domestic abuse incidents recorded in 2014/15, the highest level recorded since the data series began in 2004/05 (the 2014/15 figure is 35.0 per cent higher than the level of 20,959 recorded in 2004/05). More details can be found in ‘PSNI Trends in Domestic Abuse Incidents and Crimes Recorded by the Police in Northern Ireland 2004 to 2014/15’.
- Victims of domestic or sexual violence in Northern Ireland can call the 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline, which is managed by Women’s Aid Federation NI and co-funded by DHSSPS, the Department of Justice and the Department for Social Development through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. The Helpline is open to all women and men affected by domestic and sexual violence and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2014/15, Helpline staff and volunteers managed over 34,000 calls. Tel: 0808 802 1414.
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