herald

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Hard to look at, but these photos need to be seen by us all

I've seen just about every type of image on Twitter.

But I had never seen the face of a woman beaten so badly that she had 18 broken bones in her face, along with her nose, several missing and broken teeth, a ruptured liver and an injured leg.

Less than a fortnight ago US adult actress Christy Mack posted those very images. They were of herself.

Brutal, shocking and powerful they're hard to look at. Her face is so swollen, her eyes look like they can't even open. Her mouth is so distended, her lips look almost deformed. Her leg is black and blue. She is clearly in great pain.

She tweeted the pictures of her injuries along with an account of what happened.

survivor

And while we've seen pictures of Rihanna after she was beaten by Chris Brown and pictures of Charles Saatchi grabbing Nigella Lawson by the throat, this is the first time that a survivor of domestic abuse has posted pictures of herself.

Mack received widespread praise for highlighting an often secretive abuse.

Unfortunately social media has been used to slag off domestic abuse victims. Mack was told she was a slut and deserved it. Someone previously tweeted Rihanna saying she was beaten because she was ugly.

But it's now to be hoped that women and men previously worried about telling their stories of domestic violence or rape will use social media to share what happened to them with other survivors.

How many friends do you have? How many women do you know? What if one in four of them are being abused? An EU report confirmed that one in four Irish women suffers violence.

Think about that. It's clearly nearer to us than we believe.

A separate survey, by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, revealed that Ireland has the poorest reporting rate, with 70pc of Irish women saying they don't contact authorities after serious abuse.

It also found that one in three Irish women have experienced psychological violence from a partner.

support

The report also raised the issue of the lack of services for Irish victims. Evidence shows that Irish women have less facilities and their needs are less likely to be met than other European women.

Two out of three Irish women looking for moral support felt their needs were not met.

The more women like Christy Mack speak out on social media the more likely it is that we will be able to start a difficult conversation about being beaten.

Maybe then, we, as a society, can transform our response to domestic abuse.

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