Last Thursday, the West Limerick Primary Health Care Project for Travellers held a coffee morning at the VEC’s Community Adult Education Centre in Abbeyfeale as part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence across the community. The morning included the launch of balloons in solidarity with women who experience domestic abuse in the home. The balloon launch is a part of the Women’s Aid ‘One in Five’ National Balloon Action.  Deirdre Barrett from Adapt Domestic Abuse Services also attended the event where people were invited to donate items for babies or children who may come with their mothers to the refuge in Limerick city.

At the coffee morning, Bridget Harty who is a Community Health Worker with the Primary Health Care Project said, “We are holding this coffee morn-ing to raise awareness about domestic violence and the balloon launch is to highlight the fact that one in every five women living in Ireland today has experienced domestic violence and lived in fear of those closest to them. All too often women feel too alone and isolated, and do not know that help is available. This week we have also been calling to homes in Abbeyfeale to give out information about domestic violence and what help is there – men and women here might be worried about someone and not know how to help. This is part of a three-year campaign in West Limerick starting last year in Newcastle West where we go to homes with information.”

Nora Harty, who also works as a Community Health Worker, officially launched the flyer. “How you can help a friend or relative who trusts you enough to tell you she is experiencing domestic violence?” This was developed by the West Limerick Primary Health Care Project using information from Adapt Domestic Abuse Services and reprinted this year in association with the West Limerick Local Area Network on Violence against Women. Ms. Harty referred to some of the suggestions on the flyer, “Listen to her, try to understand and take care not to blame her. Tell her nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, no matter what the abuser has told her.” She added that the flyer “also has a safety plan that a woman can use if she is in an abusive relationship and needs to get out of the home safely and quickly.” Deirdre Barrett joined Nora in the flyer launch and said that the flyer has been hugely popular amongst services and community groups locally and nationally. She concluded, “Everyone has the right to safety and freedom from violence.  Domestic violence is not acceptable and we stand in solidarity with abused women and those services that provide vital support in our communities.  We hope that by taking part in the 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women we help reach many women to show them they are not alone and that help is available.”