Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - COVER STORY - n For more in­for­ma­tion and sup­port, visit wom­en­

Me­lanie is a pa­tron for the do­mes­tic abuse char­ity Women’s Aid. Katie Ghose, its chief ex­ec­u­tive, says: ‘Me­lanie has been in­cred­i­bly brave in speak­ing out about her ex­pe­ri­ence of do­mes­tic abuse and the ef­fect that it has had on her fam­ily. At Women’s Aid we know that abusers of­ten iso­late their partners by cut­ting them off from their friends and fam­ily. The abuser may at­tempt to dam­age the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a mother and her chil­dren by ly­ing to them – telling them that their mother doesn’t care about them or that she is the rea­son he acts the way he does. Part of the abuse can in­clude pre­vent­ing the mother from spend­ing qual­ity time with her chil­dren, and this can make her feel even more alone.

‘We run train­ing cour­ses to help moth­ers re­build their lives and gain con­fi­dence in their par­ent­ing skills af­ter liv­ing with do­mes­tic abuse, be­cause we know that it af­fects thou­sands of women. Chil­dren who have wit­nessed do­mes­tic abuse are vic­tims, too, and will re­spond to the trauma in dif­fer­ent ways – they may be star­tled eas­ily, feel anx­ious or de­pressed or feel that it is their job to pro­tect their mother.

‘Our na­tional net­work of lo­cal do­mes­tic abuse ser­vices sup­ports moth­ers and chil­dren as they re­build their re­la­tion­ships by help­ing them to un­der­stand how their ex­pe­ri­ence has af­fected their re­la­tion­ship. To­gether we work to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ent strate­gies they have been us­ing to get through this dif­fi­cult time so that they can build mu­tual em­pa­thy. We’ll help to give the mother the con­fi­dence to find the best way to sup­port her child go­ing for­ward; they’ll learn about healthy re­la­tion­ships and think about their hopes for the fu­ture.

‘Do­mes­tic abuse can have an enor­mous im­pact on women’s mental health, and women liv­ing with abuse can feel sui­ci­dal or use al­co­hol and drugs to try to block out what is hap­pen­ing to them. It is im­por­tant that we do not judge women who have sur­vived do­mes­tic abuse; we should let them know that they are not alone and that we sup­port them to re­build their lives.’

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