13 December 2007 Edition
Victims of domestic violence encouraged to seek help
West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann said:
“The research shows that domestic violence is one of the most prevalent of all crimes against the person. No-one should be under any illusions about domestic violence. It is a serious crime and must be treated as such.
“I want to encourage anyone who is the victim of domestic violence to speak out and seek help.
“We need to ensure that there is good support for people who take the courage to leave an abusive relationship. We need proper support for victims from help lines, to refuges and counselling and we need a policing response that is both sensitive to the needs of victims and focused on securing convictions and ensuring the safety of those who leave violent relationships.”
McCann said it is clear that in many cases people feel that they are let down by the judicial service. Not only are the conviction rates very low in domestic violence cases but at times there is almost a sense of betrayal because of the short sentences handed down to perpetrators of domestic violence.
In response to this, she said:
“We need to continue to raise public awareness about domestic violence. All forms of violence against women must be challenged and the services put in place to ensure that women who have been raped or have experienced violence are given the support they need.”