UCC academic tells conference to tackle root of domestic violence

Dr Louise Crowley

A leading academic at University College Cork (UCC) has said that Ireland is failing victims of domestic abuse by failing to “tackle the root of the abuse”.

An international conference hosted by the UCC School of Law opened this morning with calls for a domestic abuse intervention system which seeks to effect change in the behaviour of the perpetrator in order to improve the lives of victims.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Dr Louise Crowley of the School of Law said: “Whilst priority is rightly given to providing for and protecting vulnerable women and children, we must now seek to break the cycle of gender-based violence and where at all possible, tackle the root of the abuse.”

Dr Crowley said a holistic response including targeted intervention for perpetrators could reduce the risk of re-offending, and that present services offered to incarcerated men are inadequate and insufficient.

She added: “For those who seek help, it must be available. For those who need help, perhaps it ought to be mandatory. Without behavioural change, how can we improve the lives of women and children?”

Preliminary research data collected by Dr Crowley in conjunction with MOVE Cork, a group that facilitates men who have abused women in weekly group sessions, found that 50 per cent had never appeared before the courts for domestic violence offences.

The majority of those interviewed for the research project said they viewed the legal system as too lenient and did not believe they could be convicted unless the victim pushed for it.

Guest speakers from Scotland and Australia, including Rory Macrae of Safer Families Edinburgh, outlined the approach to domestic violence in their respective countries.

Dr Crowley said: “It is hoped that this sharing of knowledge and experience will direct the future of Irish law and policy reform and ultimately better safeguard those in abusive intimate relationships.”

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