New Galway clinic for male domestic abuse victims

Westside Resource Centre

An organisation that provides aid for men suffering from domestic abuse is introducing a monthly outreach clinic in Galway City.

Amen Support Services’ outreach clinic programme will commence on Tuesday, October 10 at Westside Resource Centre, Seamus Quirke Road.

This will be the first time Amen will be in a position to provide support in person to male victims of domestic abuse in the Galway area.

Information will be provided free of charge on a one-to-one person basis in relation to their rights on family issues such as domestic abuse, guardianship, access, maintenance, custody, separation etc.

Manager of Amen Niamh Farrell has been working for the charity for ten years and she says that the new service will offer an additional route for victims to get help.

“The problem with having only the helpline is that it puts certain people off ringing us because they assume that a service that’s based a couple of hundred miles away can’t help them.

“We would have a good few clients ringing from Galway and this is a step further for them. It will give them more of a connection with us if they can meet somebody face to face.

“The hope is as well that it will encourage more people to come forward who currently are put off by the fact that our base is in Meath,” Niamh added.

Recently, there have been advertisements on the radio and the television to encourage victims of domestic abuse to come forward but there is still a stigma surrounding abuse against men.

“Much of it is around misinformation and lack of understanding of the issue so if we can get into communities and encourage people to break down that stigma then hopefully the people will come forward,” Niamh said.

Niamh admits that another problem for male sufferers of domestic abuse has been the lack of awareness surrounding the services on offer to them.

“Of course, first they have to identify with themselves the need for support whatever the case may be but even when they do that, they just assume that there are no services for them because they only ever hear about services for women.

“If they do identify as a victim and then realise that there are supports available for them then it says: ‘Well it must be okay to look for help because there are services there’,” Niamh said.

The problem with many charities is a lack of manpower and funding available to them and Niamh says that Amen is no different in that regard.

“Up until this year we only had three full-time staff and we now have four full time staff and four part-time staff.

“We certainly know that we are not reaching the masses of people that we could be reaching had we more physical people but hopefully these outreach clinics are a start,” Niamh added.

In the ten years that Niamh has been working at Amen, this is the first year that she has seen brand-new additional funding for projects like the outreach clinics and she hopes this support can continue.

“If we can go to Galway and we can encourage people to come to the clinics then we can go back to funders and say look there are a lot more services needed in Galway, for example, or wherever, and look for additional funding to address the needs of those people,” she said.

Something Niamh has noticed recently is that some callers seem to be of a younger age, which can actually be a positive thing in terms of finding a solution.

“It’s good to see because they can be helped at an earlier stage in the problem, if they come to us in their 20s they may not have bought a house with their partner or they may not be married to this person at that time so it’s a different solution.”

■ For further information or to make an appointment, contact the Amen helpline on 0818 222240.