ON 2,537 OCCASIONS in 2011, domestic violence services were unable to accommodate women and their children because the refuge was full or there was no centre in their area.
Some women and their children ended up in a temporary homeless facilities, like a temporary B&B. Others had no choice but to be accommodated in a garda cell, while some victims had to stay in the home for longer.
Deciding to leave the home is one of the most dangerous times for these women and children and they need immediate safety, but it meant that some had no where to go.
SAFE Ireland is a national organisation representing 40 frontline domestic violence services in Ireland, 20 of which provide refuge. Caitriona Gleeson, SAFE Ireland’s Programme Manager, is now calling on the Government “to do more” for women and their children:
Society doesn’t realise how pervasive the issues of domestic violence is in Ireland. We haven’t even begun to address this issue. It’s in all areas of our communities.
When it comes to European Council standards, Ireland only meets about 30 per cent of the required places for women of domestic violence.
Gleeson explained that the numbers of those looking for help or refuge from domestic violence is “increasing steadily, which we welcome, but the funding is not increasing” so centres are already overstretched.
Figures from SAFE Ireland show that 1,686 individual women were accommodated and received a range of other supports in refuge in 2011 but on 2,537 occasions, women and children had to be turned away.
Since 2008, there were 14,500 admissions of children to refuges because the male in the home was being abusive to their mother, to them or to both.
Gleeson stressed that not every woman needs to leave the home, some receive supports like counselling to try and eliminate domestic violence in their lives and advice on ways to keep their children safe.
But when women do decide to leave the home they require immediate support and should not feel like they have to return to the situation in which they were so brave to leave in first place. It shouldn’t take days, weeks, months or sometimes years for a woman’s needs to be met.
“In Ireland, we need this issue to be taken a seriously like other topics. We are calling for champions. We need clear leadership from the Government on the issue of domestic violence. It must come from the top,” said Gleeson.
For support, see here for a list of domestic violence services in your area.