Woman weeps as judge grants protection order against ‘master manipulator’ partner

Father who fled home in fear of two adult sons gets interim barring orders against both

A woman wept after securing a protection order against her long-term partner whom she alleged subjected her to violence and coercive control during a relationship of more than 20 years.

After the man displayed violent and threatening behaviour to her early in their relationship, soon after the birth of their first child, she said “I knew I had to do as he said”.

“He knows how to grab people in a way that inflicts the most pain,” she told Judge Gerard Furlong at Dublin District Family Court.

There was “constant micro aggression”, threats and warnings to her, including telling her she was “treading on thin ice”. She said he has a history of alienating her from her friends, of following and watching her, and of violence towards others.


He had admitted his “abuse, outbursts and chauvinism” and she has text messages and recordings to that effect, she said. He had told her there were “loads of women fighting for him”, an “open relationship” would be for her own good and he had left their home for a time, she said.

Their relationship ended last year but they remained living together in their council home, subject of a joint tenancy, until she went to a refuge some weeks ago, she said.

“He told me he is a master manipulator, he is incredibly coercive controlling and I am terrified.”

She said he had “excluded me from every room in the house one by one” and that she is “extremely stressed”. He had told her she is “a failure” and “a drag” and has alienated her from their now adult children after telling them, among other things, that she never wanted children.

The woman said she can spend a few more weeks in the refuge but did not know what she would do after that.

She wept when Judge Furlong said she had shown “ample” evidence of behaviour sufficient for an interim protection order. As a joint tenant, she was entitled to enter the home property to retrieve belongings and the man was not entitled to lock her out, the judge told her.

The application was among more than 30 ex parte (one side only represented) applications before the court on Friday, mostly seeking protection or interim barring orders under the Domestic Violence Act.

One man got interim barring orders against his two sons, both aged in their 20s and with apparent mental health issues, after telling the judge he feared them. He said one son was put out of the house a few times previously because of his violence.

He said that on Friday morning, “out of nowhere”, that son told him he was going to kill him, pushed him against a wall, kicked him in the legs, grabbed him by the throat and was saying “absolutely psychotic stuff”. When he contacted gardaí, he said his son seized his phone from him.

His other son had that same morning screamed and shouted at him, threatened several times he would kill him, accused him of “tracking” him and prevented him leaving the house for a time, saying he was going to kill him.

The man said he managed to escape from the house but had to leave his phone behind and the front door wide open.

“I’m not going back to that house,” he told the judge. “It’s not safe for me to go back, there will be a murder, that is not an exaggeration. I don’t do this lightly, this has been going on a long time, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

He said he believed the Covid-19 pandemic had “a large impact” on his sons who get €350 weekly “to lie around the house doing nothing”.

In another application, a woman secured a protection order against her daughter, aged in her 20s, who has a developmental disorder.

The woman said she is a full-time carer for her daughter who throws pint glasses, candles and other things at her and follows her younger sister around to scare her. She and her younger daughter live in her bedroom “to stay out of her way” and she has had to call gardaí a number of times.

The woman said “it is a very difficult situation” and “I feel so guilty”. The judge said she should not be locked into a room with her younger child in her own home.

A protection order was also granted to a woman who said she and her younger child went to a refuge some days ago because of her adolescent daughter’s behaviour, including screaming, breaking up floorboards, throwing things around and putting herself and the younger child in fear.

Her daughter had shouted at her she wanted to smash her face in, accused her of not being a good mother, of making her suicidal and to “get the f***” out of the house.

This behaviour happens almost daily and gardaí have been constantly called out to deal with it, she said. Her daughter last month smashed up a room and threatened to stab her to death with a kitchen knife “so I can feel the pain she is in”.

She said her daughter tried to kill herself some years ago and has persistently refused help from various agencies.

When the judge told the woman the evidence was such that she could get a barring order – which would mean her daughter would have to leave the house – the woman said she wanted to give her daughter a chance.

“I absolutely love every bone in her body,” she said.

Another woman asked the judge to strike out an interim barring order obtained by her against her husband three days earlier. She agreed that when she sought that order she had provided written information saying she had lived in fear of him for years and he had physically attacked her last week.

She said the attack on her “was my fault, honest” and she had lied about being in fear.

She said her husband is “a good man and a good father”, two of their children have developmental disorders and he is the only support she has.

After the woman insisted she had not been put under pressure to have the order struck out, the judge agreed to strike it out. He told the woman she could return to court any time if the situation changed.

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Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times