“Where the blame lies”

I attended a conference that Fermanagh Women’s Aid organised over 2 days in the Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen. It was outstanding. The aim of the conference was to provide new knowledge and insight into domestic abuse, coercive control and domestic homicide.

As a family law specialist, I was really keen to attend this conference and it enlightened me on prevalent issues concerning domestic violence and coercive control that I can use for the benefit of my clients.

Whilst the conference focused on female victims, it wasn’t stating that only women matter or that men couldn’t be victims; However, the shocking figures showed a disproportionate level of male violence towards females and that femicide levels are at an all time high. Poignantly, there was a slide slow showing all women who had been killed by men in N. Ireland since 2020, displaying their photo, names and ages.

I find that clients are sometimes unaware that they are experiencing domestic abuse. This is not a criticism. Instead, I see that there are certain levels of “accepted abuse” or incidents and it is only when more serious matters arise that help is sought. A partner/former partner or family member may physically or emotionally abuse you. But this is not the only type of abuse. It can also include –

  1. economic and financial abuse
  2. making you doubt yourself
  3. manipulating the truth
  4. online and technological abuse
  5. psychological abuse
  6. sexual abuse
  7. threatening behaviour
  8. controlling or coercive behaviour
  9. Belittling
  10. Reward or punishment-type behaviours
  11. Isolating
  12. Monopolising perceptions
  13. Degradation
  14. Walking on egg-shells


Please be aware that at McGale Kelly, I am here to help. Having a conversation or an appointment with me to discuss what has been happening and to establish what options are open to you to protect yourself is a great starting point if you are unsure.

I took many nuggets of wisdom away from this conference but the mains points were –

  1. Have the courage to speak out and seek help – seeing the photos of those murdered by their abusers struck a chord. Whilst you can think that will never be me, how do you know?
  2. Look at patterns of the abuser’s behaviour and not isolated incidents; incidents in these cases are usually always part of a pattern. Never ignore non-physical abuse.
  3. BOLO (thanks for this one Laura Richards!) – which means be on the look out – for all signs that things are not right; look out for power imbalances; the “poor me syndrome” when it is them who have been the perpetrators of the abuse;
  4. Try not to blame yourself – abuse is never your fault irrespective of what the abuser says. Trust your own instincts and focus on the abuser. The abuser is who needs to be challenged about what they are doing and why. They need to be held responsible and to account.
  5. In an emergency situation, please always contact the PSNI and seek assistance, even if you feel you are wrong or to blame in some way.

I am here to walk you through the process every step of the way.

Please do not suffer in silence or wait for things to get worse. Aoife Laird, LL.B

Contact our office on 028 8224 3621 or aoife@mcgalekelly.co.uk.

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