We at Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland wish to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Concepta Leonard, and we wish her son Conor a full and speedy recovery.
Concepta’s death highlights the nature of domestic violence. For hundreds and thousands of women in Northern Ireland and across the UK, home can be a dangerous place; the perpetrator knows you, and he knows where you live. He also knows how to hurt you. This case is tragic and horrific, it will shock and scare people.
It may also confuse people, provoking questions about why he did it.
The most appropriate response is one that preserves Concepta’s privacy and her dignity, that protects her son and her family, and that recognises that we must not ignore domestic violence or allow it to fall off our political, policy and funding agenda.
Concepta Leonard’s life matters – she was a smart, funny, caring woman, and she was murdered by the man she had once loved. The enormity of this, the dreadful reality of domestic violence is still not talked about enough.
Furthermore, in the cold austerity environment where government is cutting services and rural areas are being hit hard, her death must provoke questions about what we as a society regard as important.
The awful reality of this murder is that Concepta’s name is now on a list of women in the UK and Ireland who have been killed by their partner or ex-partner – and though we will react with shock in the days to come, we must endeavour to protect the women in our community who are suffering on a daily basis.
2 women are killed by a partner or ex-partner every week in the UK. Like Concepta, these women had families, lives and dreams. Like Concepta, they are not just statistics, but women in our communities – mothers, daughters, friends.
Like Concepta, they are victims of domestic violence.
As a society, we must ask what more can we do – all of us – to help our family, friends and neighbours to stay safe. We must take action to stop more women being added to the list.
We urge women in our community to seek support by contacting the 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414 , your local Women’s Aid group or the PSNI on 999. If you’re worried about a friend or family member, you can also call the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline. Our staff are on hand to talk over your concerns.