A mother whose daughter was murdered in Newcastle West six years ago, has spoken for the first time about how she herself was a victim of violence.
Maria Dempsey (48), whose 20-year-old daughter Alicia, was murdered alongside her friend Sarah Hines and her two young children Reece (3) and five month old Amy Hines, has spoken to Limerick Voice about dealing with her own personal trauma.
“You don’t feel like you are worth anything. When people look at you it’s like they don’t see a person, all they see is the fear. And all you see is their pity,” Maria revealed.
“It’s very hard to ask for help. You don’t feel like you’re worth helping. You don’t feel like you deserve happiness.”
It’s been over 20 years since Maria Dempsey suffered her own ordeal. Little did she know that her own daughter would meet a violent death.
But despite her tragic loss, the mother of seven has become a voice against domestic violence in Ireland and hopes to use her experience to raise awareness for the voiceless victims.
Latest figures from Women’s Aid, reveal that 209 women died violently over the past 20 years in Ireland.
“I have been reading these statistics since 2010, but one day I just realised, Alicia and Sarah are two of those numbers, and it kind of shocked me,” said Maria.
“I didn’t ever intend on speaking out. But I just felt so angry when I heard that services were being cut,” she added.
A spokesperson for SAFE the national social change agency, Maria also spoke about how she was affected by the recent murder suicide in Cavan where a father killed his wife and three sons.
“It took me to a very low place. I had post traumatic stress disorder I was revisited by those horrors,” she recalled.
The mother of seven was also critical of the media’s coverage of the tragic deaths.
“The language used often takes the truth away from the story,” she said.
Notwithstanding her painful loss Maria is adamant to continue with her campaign to highlight domestic violence.
“I have tried to keep quiet. I have tried to keep the pain to myself, but I felt like a bystander.”
Anyone affected by domestic violence can call Women’s Aid 1800 341 900.
“Life should mean life. He might be an old man by the time he’s free, but he can still hurt someone,” she added.
The grieving mother suffered a heart attack after finding out the details of her daughter’s murder.
“The guards told me all the details because they thought John was going to plead not guilty, and they wanted to prepare me for what was going to come up in court. I started getting pains down my arm. It was the shock of what I had been told.”
The heartbroken mother has warned how violence can visit anyone’s doorstep.
“You see things like this on the news and think that’s not going to happen to me. But it could happen to you, your sister, your daughter, your neighbour, your friend.”
“I think Sarah would tell people to be careful. If you don’t feel safe, get out. If you see someone in an abusive situation, help them.”
It’s believed Geary became obsessive after the relationship fell apart months before the murder.
“He always wanted to know where she was and who she was with,” Abina recalled.
She believes more can be done to prevent more tragedies like Sarah’s.
“There should be a registry for people with a violent history. That way, when you bring someone into your home, you can see who they are,” she added.