Jen's Journey: "Domestic violence isn't talked about enough, there's a stigma and sense of shame" 1 week ago

Jen's Journey: "Domestic violence isn't talked about enough, there's a stigma and sense of shame"

Brought to you by Vodafone Ireland Foundation. 

Lockdown has been difficult for many reasons, some more dangerous than others.

During the last lockdown in Ireland, Women's Aid received a 43 per cent increase in calls (1,000 more per month) while out of all pregnant women admitted to the Rotunda, 12.5 per cent had suffered domestic abuse.

Throughout the media world and often during our personal conversations, we speak of domestic abuse as though it's always a one-off incident, a mere 'row' between a couple that turns physical and one that's absolutely none of our business — as a society we often opt for the 'they'll sort it out themselves' attitude and carry on.

However, as Jennifer Carroll (the Insta-famous mum known as Jen's Journey) and many more know all too well, we need to start calling out the things we know in our gut to be so wrong. Often, a victim might not even realise they're being abused. Jennifer says;

"The first time I realised I was in a dangerous situation was the first time my ex-partner put his hands on me — I was four months pregnant."

"Previous to this, the abuse was all verbal, mental and financial. I think for a long time, I made excuses for these actions or allowed myself to believe that it was normal behaviour in a relationship."

 

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A post shared by Jennifer Carroll (@jens_journey_ie) on


Jennifer, who's mum to four-year-old Carter, has been inspiring tens of thousands on Instagram through sharing and documenting her incredible weight loss journey. It was also on Instagram that Jennifer recently shared a harrowing image of herself after having experienced domestic violence — an image that prompted an influx of support and camaraderie.

 

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I have decided to share very personal pictures with you all for an important cause. These are pictures I've not shared with family or friends before, but I really hope by sharing them here I get your attention and you will read my post. I am setting my pride aside for something more important. I never imagined I would share these pictures, but the truth is they are a part of my journey and they happened to me. And unfortunately, it can happen to anyone, so this post should be important to everyone. . I was approached to share @vodafoneireland @vodafonefoundation free new app Bright Sky Ireland that was created in partnership with @gardainsta and @womens_aid for anybody that may be experiencing domestic violence/abuse, sexual abuse, harassment or stalking. . It enables users to locate their nearest support centre by searching their area or current location. It has a ground-breaking feature which allows you to log incidents of domestic abuse without any content being saved on the device itself. You can record incidents in your journal using text, audio, video or photos. This will enable the Gardaí to intervene and can also help secure prosecutions down the line. You can also use this app if you have a friend or family member you're concerned for. . There are questionnaires that you can take that will assess the safety of a relationship and also provide information about the different forms of abuse that there are. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing how easy it is to use the app on my stories. . #Ad #BrightSkyIreland #domesticabuse #sexualbuse #domesticviolence . *this #ad is a paid partnership but any of the money I receive from it over the next few days will be donated to @saoirsewomensrefuge

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So today, Jennifer has teamed up with Vodafone Ireland Foundation, An Garda Síochána and Women's Aid to highlight the all too frequent issue that is domestic violence.

"I thought about sharing [the image] for a long time. I never showed those photographs to family and friends so I knew it would upset them, I also worried it might trigger others, but when the opportunity came to promote the Bright Sky Ireland app, I just felt in my gut these are the pictures people need to see."

The Vodafone Ireland Foundation have worked with An Garda Síochána and Women's Aid to develop the Bright Sky Ireland app which is free to download on iPhone (App Store) and Android (Google Play) and it enables users to locate their nearest support centre by searching their area, eircode or current location.

It's designed to help women and men find information about different forms of abuse such as the safety of a relationship, domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking and harassment.

It also has the ability to provide emergency support and to record audio and save it privately off of the phone, should someone need to. It's useful to those who suspect that someone they know is being abused too, providing plenty of information and tools for those coming to terms with a difficult situation. Jennifer says;

"Download the Bright Sky Ireland app — no matter how bad it may be or even if you're unsure that you might be in an unhealthy relationship or situation, things can always escalate quickly."

"If you're unsure, you can use the app to fill out a questionnaire that will advise you on how safe your situation is."

Knowing the signs of domestic abuse is key. Whether it's mental, physical, sexual or financial, it's all to assert power over a partner in an intimate relationship.

Women's Aid notes that if someone feels afraid of their partner and they notice a consistent pattern, this is a clear sign of domestic abuse. One warning sign is enough and all are serious, these include:

  • Feeling as though you're constantly 'walking on egg-shells' around your partner
  • Spending time trying to work out what mood he's in, the focus always being around his needs.
  • If you're aware he has been abusive in a previous relationship
  • If he criticises your family and friends (often a tactic to have you see and speak to them less and less)
  • If he is jealous and accusatory of you flirting with others or having an affair
  • If he constantly criticises or undermines you (especially in front of others)
  • If you find it hard to have time on your own as he demands to know where you are and who you're with
  • If he has made you participate in sexual activities you were uncomfortable with, or...
  • If he controls your basic access to things like the phone, internet, food, car etc.

'Speak to someone you trust... or if you don't have anyone close that you can speak to there are plenty of places that you can call for a chat.

'And don't ever feel alone, even though I am sure it feels like the loneliest place right now.

'I wanted to share my story so that whoever sees it knows that it can happen to anyone, and sometimes the people closest to you may be living through it.'

It's safe to say that if even one woman finds the courage to reach out for help while in a situation similar to that of Jennifer's (and many more) then it was a story absolutely worth sharing.

Brought to you by Vodafone Ireland Foundation. 

Domestic violence and abuse are very common in Ireland. If you think you might be in danger or know someone who is, the Bright Sky Ireland app can help direct you to the right support. Only download Bright Sky Ireland onto a device which you feel safe using, and which only you have access to. 

Download the app for an iPhone or android today. 

Please be discreet when sharing information on the app.