Last Wednesday, staff of West Limerick Resources and members of the Newcastle West community joined staff of the West Limerick Primary Health Care Project for Travellers for a coffee morning as part of the 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women.

The 16 Days Campaign, which runs from 25th November to 10th December, is an international campaign that started in 1991. Since then, over 5,179 groups in 187 countries have taken part. In Ireland last year, over 140 groups – including the West Limerick Primary Health Care Project for Travellers – took part in the National Balloon Action or organised other events like art competitions, exhibitions, memorials, film showings, postcard and poster campaigns, information stands and media campaigns. The 16 Days Campaign provides organisations and individuals with the opportunity to break the silence around domestic violence. By organising events in our local communities that highlight the issue of domestic violence and promote the services available for women, we make the issue visible, we give hope to women who are suffering and we hold perpetrators of abuse to account.

According to Women’s Aid, one in five women in Ireland experience domestic abuse during their lifetime, and it is estimated that 213,000 women in Ireland are living with severe abuse from their boyfriends, husbands and partners. For this reason, a balloon launch was part of the coffee morning. The colours of the balloons represent the one in five women in Ireland who experience domestic abuse.

A DVD developed by Pavee Point was well-received by those who attended the coffee morning. It looks at what domestic abuse is, the causes and effects of domestic abuse, the types of support that are available and the key barriers and issues for Traveller and Roma women seeking help and support. Sheila Twomey, Outreach support worker with Adapt Domestic Abuse Services, was available to respond to queries from the group or from individuals. Sheila is in Newcastle West every week to confidentially meet and support women who are affected by domestic abuse. For an appointment, contact Adapt Domestic Abuse Services on Freefone 1800 200 504.

Community Health Worker, Nora Harty said that, “This is the fourth year of the Primary Health Care Project supporting the 16 Days Campaign. Domestic abuse affects all walks of life, women from different communities, cultures and ethnic groups. It is important that we all play our part in raising awareness about domestic abuse which is the use of physical or emotional force or the threat of physical force, including sexual violence in close adult relationships. According to the organisation COSC, domestic abuse can also involve emotional abuse, the destruction of property, isolation from friends, family and other potential sources of support, threats to others, including children, stalking and control over access to money, personal items, food, transportation and the telephone.”

Those who attended the event in West Limerick Resources, brought donations for Adapt Domestic Abuse Services. Sheila Twomey explained that the toiletries and other items are given to women who may come to the emergency refuge in Limerick city without any provisions for themselves or their children.

Staff at the West Limerick Primary Health Care Project for Travellers would like to thank all who supported this event. For more information on what help is available for women experiencing domestic abuse, go to www.cosc.ie or www.womensaid.ie. or contact Adapt Domestic Abuse Services on Freefone 1800 200 504.