Domestic abuse in all its forms was the difficult topic highlighted at Down & Dromore MU’s Prayer Breakfast on Saturday 25 November.
The event was one of many to take place on the Mothers’ Union’s Global Day of Action as part of the campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender–Based Violence.
MU is also continuing to build on the No More 1 in 3 campaign, when branches and members around the world hold events to show that MU believes domestic abuse is unacceptable.
The keynote speaker was Detective Chief Inspector Heather Campbell of the Rape Crime Unit in the PSNI and head of the MARAC team, a Multi–Agency Risk Assessment organisation, relating to Domestic Abuse.
Also in attendance were Tina Henry, (Senior Worker, Women’s Aid Refuge Armagh Down), Emalyn Turkington (CEO North Down and Ards Women’s Aid), Baroness Ritchie, Lady Eames and Bishop David and Mrs Hilary McClay.
Revd Duncan Pollock, Down and Dromore MU Chaplain, shared a Bible reading before All Ireland President June Butler spoke briefly about the work MU is already doing to combat domestic abuse locally.
Every branch supports work with women’s refuges and June encouraged every church to participate in the Rise Up Challenge which aims to better equip parishes to help the victims of domestic abuse by raising awareness and pointing them towards help. Northern Ireland has the highest rate of domestic abuse in the UK and every 16 minutes the PSNI field a call.
Det Insp Heather Campbell reiterated the scale of the problem. 33,000 incidents were reported to the police in last 24 months, but domestic abuse is hugely under reported, especially by male victims.
She also highlighted new legislation to make coercion and control, psychological, emotional, and financial abuse criminal acts. Stalking is also now an offence as is non–fatal strangulation.
Additional legislation reflects societal changes and crimes facilitated by technology such as grooming, cyber flashing, the threat to release private images and voyeurism.
Heather said that the service is victim–led with good work is being done by trained officers to create a safe place for victims where they know they will be listened to. This includes children who are witnesses to domestic abuse in the home. She said that arrest and prosecution rates were high and that the police had many tools at their disposal.
Heather finished with the following advice:
- Realise – this can happen to anyone.
- Refer out – many people doing great work. Place cards in appropriate places.
- Refer up – cast your care on the Lord and he will sustain you. Ps 55:22