Christmas can be the most dangerous time of year for many women and children living in our local community. Domestic abuse is an increasing issue in our locality and this Christmas Women’s Aid Armagh Down is encouraging people to ‘See Behind the Shine’, to identify what is really going on behind some closed doors.
In 2021-22 Women’s Aid Armagh Down supported 1,124 women and 1,433 children in their own homes or in refuge and an additional 2,586 young people participated in ‘Helping Hands’ and ‘Heading for Healthy Relationship’ programmes in schools. (90 primary school & 1,248 post primary) This Christmas not being afraid in their own home is the wish we have for, the many women who are brave enough to come forward to Women’s Aid, and the women who feel that they do not yet have the strength to do so.
‘See Behind the Shine’ follows Cora’s story. Cora’s story is based on real stories from women in Armagh and Down. It is a combination of several real-life stories, with names and locations changed to protect the identity of the women and children involved.
The campaign will consist of Cora’s story told in audio over ten days on Women’s Aid Armagh Down social media channels, voiced by well-known local actress Pauline Lynch.
Eileen Murphy, CEO Women’s Aid Armagh Down explains, “We came up with Cora’s story and the campaign, ‘See Behind the Shine’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, to raise awareness of the scourge of domestic abuse in our society. Christmas can be a real trigger for domestic abuse with increased time at home and additional alcohol and substance abuse. If you follow Cora’s Story, her domestic abuse started long before her husband ever physically assaulted her. Statistics show it can take up to 35 instances of domestic abuse before a women will report it. Even then, this often doesn’t include coercive behaviour.
“We know that domestic abuse can happen to men and in same sex couples but it is primarily a male perpetrator against a woman and children. We want people to understand what that does to a woman and how shattered she can be, behind the smiling face on social media, or the brave face put on in the office or group settings. We hope from this campaign the people who may spot the signs, like the pharmacist in Cora’s story, are brave enough to raise it and try to help.
“We also need your help. We cannot cope with the demand on our services. Our funding support has not increased since 2009 and yet our costs and demand for services have increased dramatically. Last year 83 women and 50 children in our community could not access refuge because it was full. This is a heart-breaking scenario for our team and for those women and children who may have to return to the perpetrator because they have nowhere else to go.
“We hope that people will follow Cora’s story over 10 days in December on our social media channels, starting on Monday 12th December, to see the impact that it had on Cora and her children before she was able to get help.”
Women’s Aid Armagh Down covers the two counties with refuge and administration facilities in Newry and outreach services in Armagh city and Portadown town. To support Women’s Aid Armagh Down please log onto their website womensaidarmaghdown.org .