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22 pregnant women looked for safety from violence - on one day

21 women were turned away from domestic abuse refuges last year as there wasn’t enough space.

537 women were supported by domestic violence agencies on November 6 2012 Pictures posed by actors
537 women were supported by domestic violence agencies on November 6 2012 Pictures posed by actors
Image: Miriam Doerr via Shutterstock

NOVEMBER SIXTH LAST year was notable on the world stage because of the US Presidential election.

Here at home, it was a largely uneventful day, with the Children’s Referendum a few days away.

But for 22 pregnant women in Ireland, it was the day that they sought shelter from domestic abuse.

On the same day, 537 women and 311 children were either accommodated in or received support from a domestic violence service.

The figures, which come from the SAFE Ireland one-day census, highlight the numbers of women seeking help in Ireland. SAFE Ireland is the national umbrella group for frontline domestic violence services.

On 6 November last year, 40 women aged over 56 and 14 women over 65 sought assistance from a domestic abuse service, while the majority – 346 women- were aged between 26 and 45.

A total of 117 women and 152 children were accommodated in refuge and 21 women could not be accommodated because there wasn’t enough space.

CEO of SAFE Ireland, Sharon O’Halloran says that even pregnancy can’t protect some women.

“Sadly pregnancy offers no protection from domestic violence.

Our services regularly work with women who are beaten and raped during pregnancy, sometimes resulting in miscarriage. One woman told us how she was beaten so badly that her baby was born with two black eyes.  And still we, as a country and as a society, don’t take this seriously.

She added that the State, and society, must recognise domestic abuse as “the life-threatening crime it is”.

For the 537 women accessing our services on that one day there were at least 537 men living in our communities who were raping, beating, bullying, intimidating and abusing women,” O’Halloran continued.

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“This is not just couples “having a domestic”,” she added.

“This is a crime that injures, scars, kills, intimidates, controls. This is deadly serious and must be taken seriously.”

For details of 24-hour helplines and details of local services around the country, see www.safeireland.ie or download the SAFE Ireland smartphone app.

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