More than 33,800 domestic abuse disclosures made to Women’s Aid in 2021

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There were more than 33,800 domestic abuse disclosures made to Women’s Aid in 2021 as women contacting the charity said they were experiencing “deeper levels of distress, fear and isolation”.

he charity launched its Annual Impact Report today which details how the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic “exacerbated” already difficult situations for domestic violence victims.

The report details the 26,906 contacts made with Women’s Aid frontline services including the 24-hour National Freephone Helpline, National Instant Message Support Service and its Dublin-based Face-to-Face support services last year.

During these contacts, 28,096 disclosures of domestic abuse against women were made.

Support workers also heard 5,735 disclosures of abuse against children.

Women’s Aid said the report provides an insight into the “staggering levels and brutal forms of abuse” experienced by thousands of women and children in homes and relationships across Ireland.

The chief executive officer of Women’s Aid said there are real women and families behind these figures.

Sarah Benson said: “For a second year, the Covid-19 emergency had a huge impact on victims of domestic violence.”

“Behind our figures released today are real women and families whose lives have been devastated by the scourge of male violence.

“Women who are trying to protect and keep safe themselves and their children in the face of unrelenting pressures.

“Last year, women told us that their partners or ex-partners were subjecting them to a broad and brutal pattern of abuse.”

Ms Benson said women reported assaults with weapons along with “constant surveillance and monitoring”.

“Relentless put downs and humiliations, the taking and sharing of intimate images online, complete control over all family finances, sexual assault, rape, and being threatened with theirs or their children’s lives,” she said.

“The impacts on these women were chilling and ranged from exhaustion, isolation, and hopelessness to being brutalised and wounded, suffering miscarriages, poverty, feeling a loss of identity and suicide ideation, hypervigilance and homelessness.”

The National 24-hour Freephone Helpline team responded to 21,126 contacts providing an “unprecedented” 3,863 hours of direct support, which is an overall increase of 8pc from 2021.

Ms Benson said women’s needs were often more difficult during this time.

“We experienced more calls in the quietest and darkest hours of the night. Women were reaching out for support, understanding, and the space to make sense of what their partners or ex-partners were doing to them,” she said.

“Indeed, contacts to all our services in 2021 revealed ever more complex cases, and deep levels of distress, fear, and isolation, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The organisation said all systems responsible for protecting victims of domestic violence are under “extreme pressure” and that the government needs to act urgently to increase the safety of vulnerable women and children.

“Home remains the most dangerous place for women and their children. That stark fact became even more visible during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ms Benson said.

“The pandemic did not cause domestic abuse, but the reality is that it exacerbated situations for those already at risk of, or already in, abusive relationships.

“Systems slowed and courts became further backlogged. Isolation from family and friends became more acute because of public health measures.

“Our housing crisis worsened. In some ways, the urgent and necessary efforts to manage Covid-19 compromised the country’s response to domestic abuse. The government must take urgent action now.”

The Government has completed the Third National Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence Strategy.

The final publication, together with an implementation plan, is due in the coming days.



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