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Caring for yourself during the Referendum Campaign

Published: Monday, May 14, 2018

As we enter the final days of the Referendum campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) is reminding all women throughout Ireland to take time out to look after themselves.

While this is an important time for women’s equality in Ireland, it may also stir up sadness and concern for some women. Perhaps, working on the campaign is making you feel tired, or maybe the constant media debate is bringing up memories. As we move towards the 25th May, it is important that we all show care and compassion to ourselves and to others.

In 2018, we have seen consistent media coverage of women’s issues – from accounts of sexual harassment, to women sharing their personal stories of pregnancy loss. This month, many women have been concerned by the revelations about CervicalCheck. In lots of ways the public focus on the reality of women’s lives has been positive, sparking mass solidarity among women and movements such as #MeToo and the #Together4Yes campaign. However, the focus on women’s issues in the media, amongst friends and families may also have exposed women with deeply personal experiences to distressing messages and images.

NWCI believes it is vital to support, respect and protect women at all times, but especially during the Referendum campaign. In particular, we must acknowledge the possible impact of the campaign on women and their partners with personal experience of crisis pregnancy and pregnancy loss.

Care for women

While not every woman will be finding the Referendum campaign hard, the media coverage and the general discussion of the campaign may be difficult for some women who are pregnant, women who have had abortions, miscarriages, traumatic births or who have fertility difficulties. Each woman will experience different feelings and will want to deal with it in a way that is right for her.

In the final days of the Referendum campaign, it is important that women who are finding it tough have access to supports and can talk about their experiences. Our member groups, the IFPA and Dublin Well Woman, offer counselling to women. Women can reach out, whether their own experience of pregnancy was last week or 30 years ago. Our members in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid provide support to women experiencing sexual and domestic violence. The Samaritans also offer a safe space for people to talk about whatever issue is getting to them.

SUPPORT CONTACTS

Dublin Well Woman Centre – free after abortion counselling, whether 3 weeks, or 20 years after. 01 3749243.

Irish Family Planning Association – free post-abortion counselling can be booked through the National Pregnancy Helpline 1850 49 50 51. Counselling is available in ten centres countrywide.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre – offer help and support to anyone who has experienced sexual violence of any kind. This may have been recently, some years ago or in childhood. 1800 77 8888 or email counselling@rcc.ie

The Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline – offers confidential information, support and understanding to women in the Republic of Ireland, who are being abused by current or former boyfriends, partners or husbands. 1800 341 900

Samaritans - offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. Free phone – 116 123. Text: 087 2 60 90 90 Email: jo@samaritans.ie

Care for Campaigners

NWCI appreciates the huge energy and effort that campaigners across the country have invested in canvassing, running stalls, attending events and having conversations with family and friends. To maintain their energy and drive, campaigners also need to prioritise taking care of themselves.

In the final days running up to the vote there may be moments when campaigners feel tired, upset, or frustrated. It is really important to look after yourself, to take some time out and practice self-care when you need it.

While there’s no right or wrong way to do it, here are some self-care ideas that may help:

  • Take time for yourself – read for fun, re-watch your favourite film
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Call or check in on people who are important in your life
  • Know your limits, be honest with yourself about how much you can share about your own experiences
  • Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and take some nice, deep breaths
  • Take time to prepare a healthy meal, go for a walk, do some exercise, or whatever helps you relax
  • Be aware of triggers that make you upset and know when it's time to take a breather
  • Allow yourself to cry if that feels right
  • Recharge your energy by turning off your phone and your computer for a while
  • Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes
  • Take a break from doing things to notice how you are feeling
  • Step away from social media for a while. Use the Twitter Repeal Shield to block distressing messages
  • If you have been personally affected by issues being discussed in the campaign, get in touch with relevant professional supports
  • Spend time outside in nature

Voting ‘Yes’ for care and compassion

NWCI recognises that every pregnancy is different and every woman’s decision in pregnancy is always deeply personal and private. In this Referendum we have the opportunity to vote ‘Yes’ for a more caring, compassionate Ireland where we can respond to a woman in a crisis situation and offer her the support and care that she needs at home in Ireland.

We are urging all women and all who care for women in Ireland to vote Yes on May 25th. Share who you are voting Yes for using the hashtag #WhoNeedsYourYes.