When experiencing an emergency, we know to dial 999. But what of those in danger who cannot speak? For these individuals, there is the Silent Solution: Pressing 55 after dialling 999 from a mobile phone leads the call operator to transfer the call to the local police, allowing those in danger to get help without having to speak.
The Silent Solution has helped many domestic abuse survivors, particularly those who had to live with their perpetrators during the COVID-19 lockdown. To address domestic abuse in the longer term, however, staying silent is no solution. We need to hear survivors’ stories: to understand the many, and often subtle, forms domestic abuse takes; to realise that there is no ‘typical’ survivor; and to acknowledge the ways in which our social structures both contribute to, and silence, the violence that they suffer.
Here, we seek to subvert the Silent Solution. What you will hear below is not silence. Rather, you will hear the stories of survivors from across Women’s Aid Northern Ireland. To protect confidentiality, some identifying details have been changed and the women’s stories have been voiced by volunteers from Allstate Northern Ireland.