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Cuts to domestic violence services are "hacking away at life-lines"

Demand for refuge spaces in Dublin is four times what one domestic abuse service can provide.

Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence

THE CEO OF a domestic abuse service has said that a survey that this week found high numbers of women being turned away from domestic abuse services proved that cuts to the sector needed to be stopped.

Fiona Ryan of Sonas, which provides refuge, support and housing to hundreds of women and children every year across the greater Dublin region, said cuts to frontline services were “hacking at the life-lines to women and children”.

The sector has received cuts of €4.5 million since 2008, campaigners say, and there are less than a third the number of refuge beds recommended by the Council of Europe.

Ryan says that the issue must be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Demand for our refuge spaces is almost four times that of what we are able to provide. We know from our experience of working with women and their children for the past 21 years that women do not make the decision to flee their homes lightly.

The SAFE Ireland survey, entitled One Day in November, showed that on 6 November last year, 22 pregnant women sought help from domestic abuse charities. Ryan says that the number of pregnant women who are being abused could be as high as one in eight.

[Despite] the research – the study from a leading Dublin maternity hospital showing one in eight women were being abused during their pregnancy – the evidence from Safe Ireland demonstrating the scale of domestic violence and the fact that it happens at all stages of a woman’s life, including pregnancy, we still seem unable to recognize or respond effectively to domestic violence.

“Add to these cuts to front line services and we have a situation where the safety of women and children is being put at risk.”

Read: 22 pregnant women looked for safety from violence – on one day

Read: Over 3,000 domestic abuse victims helped by support commission last year

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