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'Deep concerns' over safety of women and children affected by domestic violence during Covid-19 crisis

The Women’s Aid 24-hour national freephone helpline is available on 1800 341 900.

Image: Shutterstock/Shaynepplstockphoto

WOMEN’S AID has said it is “deeply concerned” about the safety of women and children affected by domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The organisation, which supports victims of domestic violence, said it believes that women who are self-isolating and working from home are more at risk from their abusive partner and are more exposed to their controlling behaviour, verbal abuse and violence. 

“It is important to remember that workplaces and schools often offer sanctuary for victims of domestic violence,” Women’s Aid CEO Sarah Benson said. 

“The reality that the abuser may also be at home more, or all the time, is a very frightening one,” she said. 

Many women and children will spend the next few weeks in suffocating circumstances with their abusers because of the measures to combat Covid-19. There are women trapped inside with their abuser who are using this opportunity to further their control. 

Women’s Aid said it has been in contact with the courts, Safe Ireland, local domestic violence support services, refuges and An Garda Síochána, and that it acknowledges the collective efforts being made to ensure women who need support and legal protection receive it as far as possible. 

“Safety in this time of crisis is paramount and we encourage women to reach out and find support. It is the duty of An Garda Síochána to investigate all incidents of domestic abuse and provide the appropriate information, support and protection to those affected according to their needs,” Benson said. 

She added that women who feel in immediate danger should call 112/999. 

“At this time of national emergency, we have a collective responsibility to look out for and help, in a safe way, women and children left vulnerable to abuse,” she said.

While Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in Women’s Aid taking action to protect and health and safety of its staff, volunteers and women accessing its domestic violence services, the organisation is reassuring women that its services remain available to those who need it. 

The Women’s Aid 24-hour national freephone helpline is available on 1800 341 900. 

The organisation also has useful information on its website here about safety planning and guidance for family and friends when supporting a loved one affected by abuse.

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