Businesswoman Norah Casey spoke about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband, Peter, on 'The Late Late Show' last night.
Norah described him as “sophisticated”, and told host Ryan Tubridy how he said that he wanted to take her around the world.
She says she never discusses the abuse, but has recently broken her silence in order to show others that they can move on from abusive relationships.
She explained; “we are the first generation to share our testimony. All those brave people who talked in the Yes campaign, people who talked about child sexual abuse, about alcoholism, about addiction. If we take our secrets to the grave, we are not passing anything on humanity, to the next generation.”
The National Domestic Violence Service estimate that in Ireland, 1 in every 3 women experienced severe psychological violence from a male partner, 1 in 4 women experienced physical and sexual violence from a male partner, and 79% of women in Ireland never disclosed serious physical or sexual violence by a partner to anyone. Men are also victims of domestic abuse, with 1 in 17 men experiencing severe domestic violence.
Norah told Ryan about how Peter would assault her, and then tell her that it was her fault, before showering her in affection and apologies. This cycle of abuse lasted for nine years.
She discusses how she repressed one memory so deeply that she only remembered it recently. The evening before they were due to go on a holiday, they went for dinner. Upon returning from dinner, she said something to irritate him. She does not remember what she said, but his reaction terrified her. He slammed on the brakes, got out of the car and went around to her side. At first she thought he was going to give her a hug due to the bad atmosphere, but instead he assaulted her.
“He grabbed my head and he slammed it off the side of the car”, and then casually opened the door of the house and went to bed. “He was so normal and casual… I sat there all night thinking ‘what am I going to do tomorrow?’
“I always kidded myself that I never married a man that abused me.”
She explained how the side of her face was completely swollen, and while on the plane “he had tears in his eyes and he said I’m really really sorry, it was a terrible thing for me to do, it was the stress of work and the holiday, and I shouldn’t have done that and I think I learned later that this was just part of the process of apologizing.”
Norah wanted to believe that he would change, and began thinking that he was right when he said it was her fault.
“When you love someone, and you believe that they love you, you forgive them. You want to believe that they are going to change – it was the start of me saying that I was to blame because he alluded that, he said you should’ve known not to say that.”
She also discussed how one evening upon returning home, she had no keys to the house. When he opened the door, he violently assaulted her and threatened her with a knife.
“He wasn’t answering… for 30 minutes I was trying to get into the house. Eventually he opened the door but he opened it in a rage and he grabbed me by the hair and pulled me into the house and just battered me senseless.
“He kicked me, he punched me, he dropped me on the ground. When I was on the floor in the hall, I could hardly see, but he went to get a knife in the kitchen.
“I don’t know how I did it, but I got up. I barricaded myself into the sitting room… and he was screaming saying that it was my fault, that I forced him to punch me. I was winded… so when he’d calmed down and I thought he’d gone I fell asleep. I couldn’t see out of my eyes at the time because I was very bruised, I woke up at around 4 o clock and he was standing over me with a knife and I jumped up and he pushed me back down, but by then he was on his knees crying saying ‘I can’t believe I did this to you’… he [said] he was going to AA, he was never going to drink again.”
“In the aftermath of that he wouldn’t take me to the doctor for three days – I was incapable of walking. I told so many lies – I told friends I had been caught in a fight in a pub and somebody punched me.”
“I broke 3 ribs, the side of my face, my cheekbone, was broken. The rest was bruising.”
“He was lovely for five days, showered me with flowers and gifts. I wasn’t able to go to work for about a month, I didn’t see anybody other than [a] doctor for about ten days, and then when he had to take me back I was groaning sitting into the car because I had bruising all down my back and he just lost it and said ‘you’re milking this for all it’s worth, you’re making a big thing out of something, I made one mistake, and you’re trying to make out that I’m some monster’.”
“As time goes on I can’t describe how it happens – the person you love and you believe loves you, you begin to realise that they’re perhaps not going to change, that you have to accept that they’re not going to ever be different, that even though he’s full of abject apologies, and you don’t want your life to end, the life that you have, and I was in my 20s. I was not an old person with wisdom.”
If you have been affected by the contents of this article, the following resources may help you:
Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service provides a list of what to do if you are a victim of domestic violence. It can be viewed on their website.
Safe Ireland have over forty members throughout the country, with three in Donegal. The contact details for the Donegal branches are as follows;
- Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service can be reached on 074 9126267. Their helpline number is 1800 262677. They are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Lifeline Inishowen can be reached on 074 93 73232.
- Letterkenny Women’s Centre can be contacted on 074 912 4985.
- Women’s Aid run a national free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and can be reached on 1800 341 900.
There are also services for men suffering domestic violence. Amen can be reached on 046 9023 718, with their confidential helpline being open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
To contact your local Gardaí you can get the contact details of your local station by clicking here.
If you are worried that someone may be being abused, reach out to them. If you witness an assault, report it. You can also contact the above helplines for advice.