Domestic violence agencies in ‘uphill struggle’, says Hozier

Domestic violence agencies face an uphill struggle when a man who bragged about sexual assault could still be elected president of the US, singer Hozier said yesterday.

Domestic violence agencies in ‘uphill struggle’, says Hozier

Hozier released his song ‘Cherry Wine’ earlier this year to highlight domestic abuse. Nearly 8m people have seen the video, starring actress Saoirse Ronan, on YouTube.

Hozier, who sang ‘Cherry Wine’ at the opening of Safe Ireland’s Summit in Dublin, said he hoped that Donald Trump’s sexism would prompt a backlash against that kind of behaviour and inspire people to take action.

The 26-year-old singer said his manager, Caroline Downey, had played a leading role in using his song to highlight domestic abuse and raise funds for domestic abuse charities.

The song was written from the perspective of a man, and the video had captured it perfectly, he said.

“It is more about abusive relationships; how we find ourselves in them and justify them,” said Hozier, adding that while he could have picked an easier issue to raise, he feels his contribution, in the vast scheme of things, was “very meagre”.

Hozier said people were still loath to talk about domestic violence.

“It is not TV-sexy. There are other horrific things that we are happy to talk about on TV chat shows,” he said.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she was horrified at the language used about women in the US presidential election and she questioned what “the underbelly of misogyny” during the campaign said about American society.

“I’m really disturbed by so much of what I’ve seen and heard in the last number of weeks in the American election,” said Ms Fitzgerald. There was also quite a unique sense of shame around domestic violence that did not exist around most other social issues, she said.

Earlier, Maria Dempsey fought back tears when speaking about “giving voice” to her murdered daughter and other women who were killed because of domestic violence.

Maria’s daughter, Alicia Brough, was killed on November 15, 2010, in Newcastle West, Co Limerick after returning to the house of her friend, Sarah Hines.

Ms Brough was staying with Ms Hines and her two children because she was afraid of her abusive ex-partner, John Geary.

Geary was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Central Criminal Court on July 9, 2013. He admitted to murdering Ms Hines, their five-month-old daughter Amy, Ms Hines’ three-year-old son Reece, and Ms Brough.

Ms Dempsey received her daughter’s ashes on what would have been her 21st birthday.

“Grief is very powerful, and I am glad to be able to use it on the sixth anniversary of Alicia’s death to make her death and others count,” she said, adding that a start could be made by having a domestic homicide registered on a death certificate so the Central Statistics Office could see these killings as meaningful statistics.

“It would let our children’s deaths count,” she said. “We would know the extent of the task that we are facing as a country.”

Chief executive of Safe Ireland, Sharon O’Halloran, said a social revolution was needed to bring domestic violence into the open and address it seriously.

“In Ireland, we haven’t quite figured out how to talk about the fact that not everyone is born into or lives in a lovely, safe home,” she said.

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