“We will believe you, we will support you.”
Men’s Aid Ireland are launching a new LGBT+ Domestic Violence initiative, and Derek Byrne, their newly-appointed LGBTQ Education Officer, informed us of the unpleasant truth about domestic violence in Ireland- specifically within the LGBTQ+ community.
“I’ll be looking at domestic violence from a Transgender point of view, from a female-female point of view, as well, but at Men’s Aid our focus is on men as victims of domestic violence. And it’s been quite an education,” Derek tells us, “…and it’s been something I’ve had personal and academic interest in.”
Derek tells us about how he initially became aware of the growing problem of domestic violence in Ireland when he worked on his thesis for his Masters from Trinity College Dublin.
“The thesis title was Renegotiating Masculinity in a Changing Ireland,” he says, before telling us that, through his studies, he encountered many people who couldn’t understand that men can be victims of domestic violence. “They would not accept this as a principal. And, you know, I think their initial response was [that they] didn’t want to be involved in the gay side of things at all. I said, ‘Well, actually, you’re not only talking about gay relationships; you’re talking about fathers and brothers as well.'”
Derek also highlights that there isn’t just one type of domestic abuse. “It ranges from the physical to emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual violence.”
Any one can experience an abusive partner. Whether emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or physical. Abuse is abuse, if you have been triggered this week please know there are supports to help you, your family member, your friend. We’re just a phone call away 01 554 3811. pic.twitter.com/VxuO2VO1Ob
— Men’s Aid Ireland (@MensAidIreland) June 3, 2022
In his new capacity as the new LGBTQ Education Officer of Men’s Aid, he has spoken with “practically all” of the LGBTQ+ services in Dublin, including BeLonG To, HIV Ireland and LGBT Ireland. “They’ve all said this is an issue – domestic violence, coercive control – it’s an issue in all of their services.”
“You know, we had over 8,000 calls to our phone lines last year,” Derek continues, “and a significant number of those were from men in same-sex relationships, or men who were experiencing violence from other men.”
On the important topic of how Men’s Aid can offer support to those who reach out for help, Derek tells us, “People could contact us through our [confidential] helpline and when they do that, we can arrange for them to meet with a counsellor or they will get a series of counselling sessions, or they can arrange to meet our support worker in the family courts based in Dublin in Dolphin House.
Thank you for interviewing us today @maireadcleary7 . A busy but positive day to be having these conversations & discussions that encourage any person to never let someone silence you. Support is available, we are a small team responding to extraordinary demands & saving lives 🙏 https://t.co/MlySdDjbzO
— Men’s Aid Ireland (@MensAidIreland) June 2, 2022
“…So we can give emotional and mental support through counselling and we have a number of counsellors trained within the organisation who provide that service. And what our court service support worker does at Dolphin House is he gives very practical advice, and he will listen to where the men are at and he will assess what their immediate needs are. That could be to get a safety order or a barring order. So he will help them in terms of responding to their immediate needs, which is always about safety at the end of the day.”
“It’s a growing situation,” Derek concludes, “and we’re finding at the moment that capacity needs to build now to meet that growing demand.”
The only meaningful thing to add is to all those who feel trapped or alone tonight as a consequence of domestic abuse – Drop into or call any Garda Station to speak about your experience & please pick up the phone or send a quick mail to @SAFEIreland @MensAidIreland @Womens_Aid.
— Ciara Ahern (@Ciara_Ahern) June 1, 2022
Before Derek returned to his work preparing for the service’s launch tomorrow, he gave us a message that he would like to share with every person suffering from any of the issues mentioned in this article.
“We do believe you,” he said. “People are there to help you and support you. And we don’t question. We believe everybody who contacts us and tells us they are in distress. There is no question. And I think that’s one of the problems; people think they won’t be believed, men in particular … But we will believe you, we will support you. And we will. We’ll be there for you on the journey to getting through it.”
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If you need to reach out to Men’s Aid, you can reach them on their confidential national support helpline at 01 554 3811 or you can email [email protected]. For more information, see their website, Mensaid.ie.
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