Mayor to light up Guildhall in support of domestic abuse campaign
03 December 2020
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney, has asked local people to join him in supporting the 16 Days of Action Campaign against domestic violence to raise awareness of the issue in the build up to Christmas.
The Guildhall will light up purple from December 7th – 10th in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse and coercive control, and to highlight the fact that help is there for anyone who is struggling to cope.
December annually sees a significant increase in domestic abuse incidents, as the financial and social pressures create a more volatile environment for those already in violent or coercive situations. The 16 Days of Action campaign is currently running between November 25 – December 10th as part of an international movement which also encourages businesses to support employees who may be living in abusive situations.
The latest PSNI figures from 1st July 2019 to 30th June 2020, reveal that in terms of local Council areas, Derry and Strabane recorded the third highest levels of domestic abuse incidents, and is ranked second in terms of domestic abuse crimes, next to Belfast.
Overall there were 32,127 domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland, an increase of 570 (1.8 per cent) on the previous 12 months and the highest 12 month period recorded since the start of the data series in 2004/05. Reflecting the increasingly pressurised situations faced by many people during Covid-19, eight of the eleven policing districts showed an increase in domestic abuse incidents, and nine districts had higher levels of domestic abuse crimes.
Mayor Tierney said that Council prioritised supporting victims with a dedicated policy for staff, and he hoped other businesses would also introduce similar support measures in the workplace.
"These figures are simply unacceptable, and it's vitally important that we keep this issue high on the agenda and get the message out that support is there for anyone who is seeking a way out of an abusive or coercive situation," he stressed.
"I am lighting up the Guildhall next week as a reminder to everyone that there are people living in daily fear and despair, and we need to create a society where anyone who reports domestic abuse will feel protected and prioritised. Too many people have lost their lives, too fearful to come forward.
"I particularly want to encourage local businesses to create safe spaces where staff who are affected can feel supported and share concerns. We should all be more aware of the signs of domestic abuse and offer assistance where we can. Christmas is a time when these domestic situations can be exacerbated by alcohol and financial stress, so please support this campaign of action."
A number of local organisations offer support and refuge to victims throughout Derry and Strabane. They include Foyle Women's Aid, Men's Action Network and La Dolce Vita. A special virtual conference on the issue of Parental Alienation, a form of control or manipulation often used against a partner during a separation, took place last week organised by the La Dolce Vita Project in conjunction with Parental Alienation Europe.
Victims of domestic abuse can also receive support through the Policing and Community Safety Partnership. The Policing and Community Safety Partnership sits on the Western Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership which is led by the Western Health and Social Care Trust. This is a multi-agency partnership where the needs of domestic abuse victims are heard and where individuals and agencies can come together to generate positive action to eliminate domestic violence from our communities.