WOMEN’S AID HAS said that there has been a surge in the level of violence against children with over 3,000 disclosures of child abuse to its domestic violence direct services last year.
The national charity said that its free helpline and one to one support services heard 16,200 disclosures of physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of women. There were also a total of 3,230 disclosures of child abuse up 55 per cent from 2011 when there were 2076 disclosures.
Women’s Aid has said that domestic violence is more likely to take place against children when there has also been violence against women in the home. It has cited cases of children being urinated on and their pets being abused. Sexual abuse against children has also occurred.
“Many children have witnessed their mother being shouted at, threatened, physically assaulted and at times have seen their mother being raped,” Margaret Martin, Women’s Aid director, said.
“Where they have not directly seen the abuse occurring they may have overheard abusive incidents, or seen the aftermath of it such as bruises, broken bones, damaged furniture and belongings.”
The charity has also detailed some of the types of abuse suffered by women including:
- Physcial abuse: being locked in and prevented from leaving the home, being drugged, punched, assaulted, beaten while pregnant, kicked while breast feeding, punched, thrown, slapped, beaten with weapons, and spat on.
- Sexual abuse: rape, sexual assault, and being forced to have sex in return for money to feed the children.
- Financial abuse: being denied money for household items, being put on the street, household income being gambled away, withholding maintenance and lying to courts about income.
Women calling the helpline disclose that 82 per cent of abusers were their male partners – 49 per cent were husbands, 7 per cent were ex-husbands, 16 per cent partners and, 10 per cent ex-partners.
Forty-two per cent of calls were from the greater Dublin area, 27 per cent were from outside Dublin and 31 per cent of callers did not disclose their location. Almost all callers to the helpline were women – 97 per cent.
The charity has today called on the government to provide 24/7 access to legal protection for vulnerable women and children.
It has also called for the government to sign up to the Istanbul Convention which is a Council of Europe agreement aimed at a preventing and combating violence and domestic violence against women.
Only four of the necessary 10 countries have ratified this agreement therefore meaning it is not yet in force.
The Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 10am – 10pm, seven days a week.