Partners are battered in the ‘leafy suburbs’ too stats show

Home abuse figures rise as men come forward

By Paul Ainsworth

A RISE in reported domestic abuse incidents in South Belfast scotches the myth that such violence only happens in working class areas, it’s been claimed.

Patricia Lyness of Women’s Aid spoke out as new statistics suggested the problem is increasing right across South Belfast at an alarming rate.

Figures released by the PSNI show that over the past year domestic abuse incidents in the South of the city have risen faster than anywhere else across the North.

A total of 1,086 incidents were recorded – a rise of 263 from the previous 12 months – and according to Ms Lyness, the figure includes a significant number of male victims who are facing up to the problem and reporting abuse.

“I think what these figures show is that domestic abuse is an issue that can affect all communities, not just ones that in the past have been stereotypically associated with this crime,” she said.

“When we see these rises, it does not necessarily mean the problem is increasing, it can mean more victims are coming forward to report abuse or violence. It has always been there, in all communities, and although many outsiders see South Belfast as mostly a leafy suburb, it has the same problems as anywhere else, including of course domestic violence.

“I know that we get calls for support from all backgrounds locally, and certainly not just from working class areas. That is a myth that it’s important we help debunk.”

Although working primarily with women and children, Woman’s Aid also run a domestic violence helpline, and Ms Lyness  revealed that out of the total number of local incidents, a significant proportion of those making complaints are male.

“We do get calls from men who are suffering abuse and violence, and it’s important to remember that they too can suffer from this. Then there’s South Belfast’s large immigrant community, and we are currently working to try and encourage more victims from them to come forward as, unfortunately, there can be cultural barriers preventing them from doing so.”

 

“I think what these figures show is that domestic abuse is an issue that can affect all communities…”

 

A PSNI spokesperson said a recent drive to persuade greater numbers of abuse victims to come forward had paid dividends “We believe the increase in the number of incidents may be connected to our campaign to encourage reports of domestic abuse from victims of this crime.”

 

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