Minister of Health Michelle O’Neill and Justice Minister Claire Sugden co-chaired the Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence which met on Monday 28 November to re-affirm the government’s commitment to tackling domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

Pictured: Minister of Health Michelle O’Neill, Helpline Manager Sonya McMullan and Justice Minister Claire Sugden. Source: Department of Health

Manager of the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline, Sonya McMullan, delivered a presentation to the group detailing the information and support available to victims and their families.

Funded by the government, the Helpline is a confidential, listening-ear service for all women and men affected by domestic and sexual violence. The team of highly trained staff and volunteers can talk people through the different options available to them and will signpost them to other available services. The Ministers commended the Helpline at the meeting on Monday.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill commented:

“We all know domestic and sexual violence and abuse can affect anyone in this society, and yet it still tends to be an unspoken, or even a taboo subject.

“A societal change is required and I know this will not be achieved by government working in isolation. I encourage all stakeholders to partner with government in this task to ensure victims are supported and protected and perpetrators are held to account.” 

Justice Minister Claire Sugden commented:

“As Justice Minister, I want to ensure victims are empowered to report these crimes and ensure that they receive the support they need when they take that first brave step. I also want to send out a clear and resounding message that these crimes are abhorrent and unacceptable and that is why I have committed to legislating for a new domestic abuse offence in Northern Ireland.” 

The group was convened to coincide with the international ’16 days of activism against gender-based violence’ campaign, which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2016.

The ’16 Days’ international campaign serves as a catalyst to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls and encourage discussion about these important matters.

If you have concerns about your relationship or are worried about someone, you can call the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414 or email 24hrsupport@dvhelpline.org or text ‘support’ to 07797 805 839. This number is free from a mobile or landline and is available 24 hours, 365 days a year.

Full press release.