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Brave Barrister Doireann O’Mahony opens up on experiences with coercive control and domestic abuse

'I look back and it's like one big dark hazy fog of slaps, and bruises, and fear, and anxiety, and lots of tears'


Doireann O'Mahony with The Two Norries

Doireann O'Mahony with The Two Norries

Doireann O'Mahony with The Two Norries

Barrister Doireann O’Mahony has opened up about her experience with coercive control and domestic abuse.

The 32-year-old said that speaking openly about the mental and physical abuse she endured while in a coercive control relationship has led her to take her power back.

She hopes her story of life with an abusive partner can help other young women.

Speaking on The Two Norries podcast, the Cork woman, who practises clinical negligence law, said that their relationship was exciting at the beginning.

“There was something very magnetic about him; I was just happy,” she said.

Doireann was just 19 at the time she got into a relationship with an older man.

“In the very early stages, there might have been little things. I knew that he had a temper, I knew that he had an issue with anger and I would have seen that come out on a few occasions.”

“I didn't make an issue of it, but there was definitely something in my gut saying ‘I don’t really like that’.”

“I had a very warm, loving, sheltered, safe upbringing. I have a fantastic family, a great homelife, a wonderful schooling.”

“I had never really had difficulties, and I had never been treated badly by anybody, really badly.”

“It wasn't until about six or seven months into the relationship that the line was crossed. It went from being just slight episodes of anger and slightly controlling things like ‘why are you wearing that colour on your nails, who are you trying to impress?’”

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She also said that her partner constantly wanted to know who was texting her, and reading her messages.

Doireann said that he physically attacked her after an argument while they sat in his car outside a supermarket one January evening.

“He leaned across to the passenger seat where I was, he had his hands around my neck, and he slammed the left-hand side of my face and head forcefully and repeatedly against the door, window of the car so many times I lost count.”

“And then without a word, he just turned the key in the ignition and drove off very fast in silence”

“He brought me home, but I remember sitting in the car just totally numb and thinking: 'What just happened?' and it was immediately followed up with ‘I am so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I would never want to hurt you, you drove me to this, you wound me up’, as if it was my fault.”

Doireann recalled waking up the next morning and felt she had handed over her power and gave him a message that “said it was OK to do what he had done.”

She said she remembers waking the next morning and realising she had “handed over my power” and given him a message that it was OK to do what he had done.

It was the first of a number of violent outbursts during their five year relationship.

“I look back and it's like one big dark hazy fog of slaps, and bruises, and fear, and anxiety, and lots of tears.”

“I didn’t have a life because I was totally isolated and I think that's a pattern in situations like this.”

“He didn’t like me spending time with people in college, he didn't like me spending time with my friends.”

“My world became smaller and smaller and smaller.”

“Some people have said to me ‘Why didn’t you just leave? Why did you stay in that for so long?' and I hate that question. The question is ‘how did you leave?'"

She urged people not to ignore any red flags that may appear early in a relationship.

“Do not ignore them, because I ignored them, and it only ever got worse," she said.

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please reach out for help. You can contact Women’s Aid on 1800 341 900, or 999 if you are in an emergency situation.

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