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Hundreds who called women's helpline had suffered over 21 years of abuse

Women’s Aid said abuse included severe beatings, threats to kill children, stalking, and rape.

Image: domestic violence image via Shutterstock

WOMEN’S AID HAS said today that it received more than 19,500 disclosures of domestic violence against women last year.

According to its annual report, the organisation’s domestic violence helpline dealt with 17,254 calls in 2013 in which 17, 855 disclosures of abuse were made.

Today it said details of this abuse continue to show a “wide and horrific range of methods of violence being used to control not only women but often unfortunately their children too”.

These included physical abuse like severe beatings requiring hospitalisation; emotional abuse which included threats to kill children and 46 death threats made against women; being stalked and harassed on all forms of technology, and sexual abuse which included 201 rapes, some of which took place in front of the victims children. Some of the reports also related to financial abuse which included women being left without money for vital medical care.

There were 3,207 disclosures of direct child abuse to the helpline and marriage remains the most common context for abuse with 57% of abuse disclosed perpetrated by a current husband or partner. Abuse by a former husband or partner was disclosed by 17% of callers. Women’s Aid said that, “startlingly”, over 15% of callers had suffered over 21 years of abuse.

Commenting at the launch of the annual report, Director of Women’s Aid, Margaret Martin said Ireland needs a situation where “proper meaningful risk assessments take place, the court system is properly resourced, so women don’t face delays of four months to have full barring orders in place and emergency orders can take place at the weekend”.

Violent abusers don’t just operate between Monday and Friday. After forty years it is sad to have to say that it suits society to ask the question – Why doesn’t she leave? – And yes, some women do get away but a sizeable number stay and we as a society still haven’t put in place a system to make it possible for them and their children to leave in safety and dignity.

“When women do leave the abusive relationship, they face negotiating the legal system for custody, access and maintenance which, in the context of domestic violence, leaves many women vulnerable to continued abuse,” she said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, the Women’s Aid freephone helpline can be reached on 1800 341 900 and is open from 10am to 10pm every day except Christmas Day. Male victims of domestic abuse can also contact Amen‘s helpline on 046 9023718

Read: Domestic violence applications rose by 5% in 2013>

Opinion: Domestic violence victims who are disabled face multiple obstacles to help>

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