Domestic violence survivors encourage others to ask for help

Two women who have survived domestic violence are encouraging others living in fear to ask for help and to contact the police.

Stacey McClatchey was with her ex-partner for six months before he turned violent.

Stacey told UTV that she was punched and kicked until she fell unconscious.

"He continued to punch me into the side of my face, he was banging my head off the cupboard doors... by this stage he had me pulled half way across the kitchen floor," said Stacey.

"He kicked me up underneath the chin towards the jawline and that was the last thing that I really remember."

Stacey's story is sadly one of many.

According to the PSNI, domestic abuse accounts for over one in five crimes in Northern Ireland.

Latest statistics show that women make up 68% of domestic violence victims and 78% of sexual crimes.

NHS worker and mother, Jenny Hunter, was married to her abusive ex-husband for six years.

She told UTV about the night she was attacked while she lay sleeping beside her daughter.

"He dragged me up the hall and into our bedroom where he forced me down onto the bed and straddled across me, so that my arms and body were pinned underneath him.

"He put both of his hands around my neck and told me that he was going to kill me," said Jenny.

The PSNI is now taking action to better protect women and girls here against violence, both in the community and within the police service.

Simon Byrne told UTV: "We do care and we want to do our part but we have to recognise as well that other people hold powers, policies, tools, decision-making, all that sort of stuff, to help us be more effective - we can't fight this alone.

"We save lives, absolutely, by swift response but we need the whole system to support us."

Kelly Andrews from Women's Aid NI said: "We really really want to see the Executive up and running, we want to see the Government's violence against women and girls strategy to be brought forward, so that it can support the PSNI on delivering this (their) strategy."

While police do their part, Stacey and Jenny hope telling their stories will encourage others living in fear to seek help.

Jenny said: "I think a lot of people think that when you leave that that's when it ends but actually the point of leaving can be the most dangerous time because that's the time when the abuser realises that they're losing control, that you're not responding the way you normally do.

"So I think it's important for people to get help, to contact the police and to contact whatever services are available and get help to leave safely."

Help and support about reporting domestic violence to the PSNI can be found here, more help and support is also available at Women's Aid.

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