Women’s Aid Ireland will hold its first ever Purple Run 5k on Sandymount Strand tonight, Tuesday 25th, at 7:30pm. We spoke with RTÉ Presenter and Women's Aid ambassador Bláthnaid Treacy to find out more.

Women's Aid is a national organisation that has been working in Ireland to stop domestic violence against women and children since 1974. Not only do they offer confidential support to these women, they also offer guidance to other agencies responding to domestic violence.

According to Director Margaret Martin, the organisation receives approximately 44 calls a day and about one in five women in Ireland will experience abuse in their lifetime.

With the help of ambassador Bláthnaid Treacy, they are hosting their first ever Purple Run to raise awareness and funds. If you want to register, click here.

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This is the first ever Women's Aid Purple Run, what's involved?
Yes, it's a really exciting day, I have a few of my friends joining us too! It's a really fun way for us all to get together to raise much-needed funds for a very serious problem. 

There are going to be some domestic violence survivors there too, which is really important. I think that people have an image of what someone looks like who has found themselves in a violent relationship, but the reality is that it could be anyone; you, me, my sister, my auntie, my best friend, my colleague - it could happen to anyone. 

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Why did you get involved with the organisation?
I got involved with Women's Aid because domestic violence doesn't get enough attention. People are still afraid to talk about it, people still turn a blind eye. We have all seen something at some point, whether it's a partner speaking in a really aggressive manner or literally seeing physical violence. 

The first time I saw a man hit a woman, I was a child rollerblading with my friend around their housing estate when a young man, about 16, pushed his girlfriend to the ground and dragged her along the path so her back scraped on the pavement. The young man's sister was standing over the terrified girlfriend telling him to hit her. I was about 8 or 9, shocked, glued to the spot when my friend, who was the same age as me said, 'come on, let's go!'.

Those images still play over in my mind, why didn't I tell an adult? Why was his sister supporting this kind of behaviour? It wasn't behind closed doors, it was in the middle of the day, in plain sight, for everyone to see and still, no one helped this young woman.

I want to help get rid of the stigma. We talk about online bullying and mental health so much more than ever before - well this is bullying and causing huge mental health problems within families. It's a really big problem still to this day in Ireland. We are coming together in solidarity for the Purple Run to let these women know that they will be heard and helped the moment to get in touch with Women's Aid.

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You've worked with previous campaigns, what have some of your biggest learnings been?
To be honest, it's that people won't listen. They still chose to turn a blind eye, the subject makes people feel very uncomfortable. I think it's from years of turning a blind eye as a society.

We are quite nosy people in Ireland; we like to know what's going on with the neighbours, who's been going on dates with who, who got a raise in work, but the moment we hear of a tricky situation between a couple, everyone shuts up. I want to know why. There is strength in numbers and that's why we need these women to feel supported.

At the moment it's incredibly difficult to convict someone of domestic violence. Thankfully, because of the bravery of recent domestic violence survivors who have gone public with their cases, they has shed light on the difficulties faced and how the laws need to change.

Women's Aid are getting there, slowly but surely they are working towards certain goals that are getting closer and closer every day.

Do you think people in Ireland have enough awareness surrounding non-physical domestic abuse?  
Absolutely not. I was involved in another Women's Aid Campaign called Too Into You, and this was specifically aimed at young women, starting in college, in long-term relationships for the first time. It was to let them know the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

I found it interesting that when I posted about this campaign, a few guys commented saying, 'What about women who abuse men?', I just reminded them that this campaign is purely aimed at young women. It's strange how people try to find something to hate on you about, rather than thinking, 'wow, I better tell my sister about this, she's starting college soon and she could tell her friends about this too'.

For more information on the signs of emotional abuse and what to do if you witness domestic abuse, you can read our article with Women's Aid Director Margaret Martin here.

Women's Aid
Women's Aid's first ever Purple Run 5k takes place tonight!

Sign up!
There will be over 500 walkers, joggers and runners on the beautiful Dublin coastline tonight to raise money and awareness for Women's Aid. You can show your support by signing up and getting your family and friends to join you.

Where: Sandymount Strand, Dublin 4 (Sean Moore Park end).
 
When: Tuesday 25th September at 7.30pm - 9:30pm.
 
Entry: €25 (includes free t-shirt) and €10 for those under 15.
 
Registration: www.popupraces.ie/events/womens-aid-5k-purple-run/
 
Route map, description and prize information available at: www.womensaid.ie/purplerun


If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse you can call Women Aid's 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341900 or visit their website here.