Over 30 Travellers attended workshops at Pavee Point today as part of the 16 Days of Action to stop domestic violence.
The workshops entitled ‘The Safety Pocket’ were introduced by Traveller Community Development Worker Tessa Collins and Traveller Women’s Awareness Worker Bridgie Collins who spoke about the Domestic Violence Act 2018. This new law now makes ‘coercive control’ an offence.
“We called the workshops “The Safety Pocket”, explained Tessa Collins, “because these workshops offer a safe space for Traveller women from community groups to talk about the issues impacting on Traveller women experiencing domestic violence.”
“The law has changed recently and now coercive control or emotional violence is an offence,” said Bridgie Collins who explained coercive control includes behaviour patterns such as putting a woman down and controlling a woman’s finances.
“We want more Traveller women to aware of what coercive control is and what services are out there to help women experiencing domestic violence,” she said.
New figures from Women’s Aid show that 5 women have died violently this year in Ireland with an average of 10 women dying per year for the last 23 years.
The workshops also used the Traveller Beady Pocket to remember Traveller women who have died from or lived with domestic violence.
“The Beady Pocket was a secret pocket worn under an apron where Traveller women kept important and private belongings,” explained Sheila Reilly. “The pockets were decorated with beads and buttons that were exchanged between Traveller women as mementos.
“During these workshops we are inviting women to decorate beady pockets in a similar way and to keep safe the memory of Traveller women lost their lives from domestic violence, ” explained Tessa.
Service providers also attended the workshops and spoke to women about coercive control and what their service can offer women experiencing domestic violence. Gillian Dennehy, Service Manager with Women’s Aid highlighted access to their 24 helpline. Nieve White from Aoibhneas explained the questions women will be asked at women’s refuges. Sonya Logan and Siobhan Ferguson of Sonas spoke of safe homes and support housing.
Inspector Emer Curran of An Garda Síochána spoke about the powers the Gardaí have under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 and other supports Gardaí can give women experiencing domestic abuse.