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A tough time for separated fathers

CHRISTMAS can be an emotive and stressful time for many families. One group that faces stress and strain during the festive period are separated and unmarried fathers.
As usual at this time of year, Amen, the support service for male victims of domestic abuse, hase been inundated with phone calls from fathers who are being denied access to their children. Many clients of Amen have had to leave the family home due to abuse they have suffered at the hands of their wives or partners.
One father who contacted the group told how he has to drop his children’s Christmas presents at a Garda station in the hope that they would deliver them, as his wife won’t tell him where they are.
Another father said, “I can’t bear to think about Christmas, it is heart-wrenching to think that I will spend another Christmas in my bedsit without my children. I have begged their mother to let them stay with me but instead, they will have Christmas with her new partner. I won’t even be allowed to give them their presents until the new year. I have been apart from them for three years and it hasn’t got any easier.” 
A newly separated father told Amen, “I have spent every Christmas of my son’s life opening his Christmas presents with him on Christmas morning. The excitement, anticipation and sheer joy we shared on those days is gone as this year, I won’t see my son on Christmas Day, I won’t see him on St Stephen’s Day. I haven’t even got phone access. Only for my mam and dad, I don’t know where I would end up.”
According to Amen, many fathers are now dreading spending Christmas without their children.
“They feel lonely, frightened, isolated and helpless. Mothers who use their custodial status to punish their former partners in this way should stop and think about the damage they are also doing to their children,” said a spokesperson for Amen.
“Many people do not believe that men can be victims of domestic abuse. It can be very difficult for a man to come forward and admit that he is a victim of domestic abuse. In 2005, the National Crime Council found that 26% of men suffer domestic abuse but only one in 20 men reported this abuse to the gardaí.”
To date, Amen has received over 4,000 contacts to the service this year. Domestic violence is an issue that hurts every member of a family. Amen’s services include a confidential helpline and a support service for male victims of domestic abuse on 046 9023718, www.amen.ie.
The organisation provides information on legal and other remedies available to abused men and support group meetings.

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