'speak out' | 

Brave Belfast woman who survived horrific domestic abuse urges victims to ask for help over Christmas

Louise Gilmore told the Sunday World she hoped by speaking out herself in recent weeks that other victims would “not suffer in silence”

James Joseph McKinley admitted at attacking his then partner Louise Gilmore in a prolonged attack which took place just six weeks after she had given birth to McKinley’s baby

Steven MooreSunday World

A brave Belfast woman who survived horrific domestic abuse has urged people to ask for help over Christmas is they find themselves in a similar situation.

Louise Gilmore told the Sunday World she hoped by speaking out herself in recent weeks that other victims would “not suffer in silence”.

The 33-year-old mum-of-three made headlines across the world when she posted a video of her injuries online just after the attack in November 2019.

Louise Gilmore made headlines across the world when she posted a video of her injuries online just after the attack in November 2019. The then 30-year-old mum-of-three suffered a broken nose, shattered cheekbone, a fractured skull and had 12 teeth knocked out saying she believed she was “going to die”.

She suffered a broken nose, shattered cheekbone, a fractured skull and had 12 teeth knocked out saying she believed she was “going to die”.

The West Belfast woman was stretchered from the Clonavogie Gardens home she shared with her children.

Last month James Joseph McKinley admitted at attacking his then partner three years ago in a prolonged attack which took place just six weeks after she had given birth to McKinley’s baby.

Monster McKinley repeatedly bashed her head on the cistern of a toilet, punched and kicked her and while she lay unconscious smashed bottles over her and jumped on top of her pelvis.

James Joseph McKinley admitted at attacking his then partner Louise Gilmore in a prolonged attack which took place just six weeks after she had given birth to McKinley’s baby

McKinley, who has since been put out of his north Belfast home, will be sentenced in January and is almost certainly facing a prison sentence.

With McKinley pleading guilty to beating her Louise has been speaking out against domestic abuse and highlighting the support that’s out there.

“I always say violence is the last refuge of an incompetent,” says Louise. “Violence is the last answer. It leaves the mind withered and sterile. Nothing ever good comes of violence.

“It leaves you with anxiety, PTSD and several other issues like depression. It leaves you emotionally and physically scarred. In Northern Ireland there’s a high rate of depression and suicide after suffering domestic abuse over the festive holidays.

“You can always speak out. You’re lucky if you escape it if you can. I was just one of those ones who was lucky to live but family members passed away and I lost everything because of it.

“It’s really important that men and women do speak out about domestic abuse. Women’s Aid do a fantastic job and the Women’s Centre too. There is a lot of online help.”

Tragically domestic abuse complaints spike every year around Christmas and New Year.

The PSNI recently launched their campaign urging people to spot the signs of domestic abuse on the run up to the festive period.

This includes psychological abuse with coercive and controlling behaviour creating fear in relationships and homes.

The Police Service, as part of their wider Tis’ the Season Christmas campaign, will be raising awareness of the signs of all types of domestic abuse and encouraging potential victims to report to Police, so that safeguarding action can be taken and the right support put in place.

Sadly, last year during the December and January holiday periods, the Police received a call every 16 minutes related to domestic abuse. 97 incidents and 65 crimes were reported on Christmas Day alone.

On New Year's Day, the Police Service received reports of 161 incidents and 100 crimes of domestic abuse, an increase of 17 on the year before.

Louise Gilmore urges anyone suffering not to suffer in silence.

“Don’t suffer in silence, there’s always a way out, even if you think there’s not,” she says.

“Women’s Aid were brilliant with me. People shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if they find themselves in a domestic abuse situation. Honestly, the help is out there for you. Just pick up the phone.

“I’m going to continue speaking out to highlight the issue and to raise as much awareness as I can.”

The PSNI have highlighted the fact that it’s not just about physical abuse and said special detectives will be available to take you call 24 hours-a-day.

Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher said: “Christmas is a time of joy and goodwill for many people, but it can also be a time of real fear and control for those in a physical or emotionally abusive relationship.

“It’s important to remember domestic abuse is not just physical. If you are afraid of someone you live with or who you are in a relationship with, or if you’re walking on eggshells, or have no control over your own life – this is also abuse and we can help you.

“Specialist domestic abuse detectives will be available 24 hours a day during the festive period and will treat all reports seriously. We work with a range of other agencies to ensure that you will receive support to help you break away from the cycle of abuse.

“There is no excuse for abuse. You are not to blame, the abuser is 100% responsible. Don’t suffer in silence this Christmas.”

They also appeal to families and friends to keep an eye out for signs that someone may be a victim of domestic abuse. Sometimes victims are unable to contact the police, which is why it’s so important the people around them who suspect something is going can raise the alarm on their behalf.

Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher added: “We ask that everyone familiarises themselves with the signs of domestic abuse this Christmas. If you have concerns that a family member, a friend or a colleague is a victim of domestic abuse, please contact us.

“We will do everything we can to ensure the people you love are safeguarded and that perpetrators are brought to justice not just at Christmas, but all year round. 24 hours a day, every day.”

If you are suffering at the hands of an abusive partner or family member or worried about someone you love who might be, please report to the Police on 101 or in an emergency always dial 999.

If it is an emergency and you’ve dialled 999 but cannot speak then stay on the line and press 55 when prompted, then cough or tap in response to the operator’s queries. This is called the ‘silent solution’.

A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past on 0808 802 1414.

Steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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