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Increase in domestic abuse applications in courts 'only the tip of iceberg'

There was a 20 per cent increase in applications for safety and protection orders but one group said women in dating relationships who are abused do not qualify for these protections.

Image: abused woman image via Shutterstock

APPLICATIONS FOR SAFETY and protection orders by victims of domestic abuse increased by 20 per cent in 2012, newly released figures show.

In total, 12,655 domestic violence applications were made in 2012, compared to 10,652 the year before.

Chief Justice Susan Denham said there was a general drop of three per cent in civil matters across the system in 2012 but there was a 34 per cent increase in safety orders and a 23 per cent rise in protection orders sought.

In 2012, spouses still represented 51 per cent of all applicants for barring orders, 55 per cent for interim barring orders, 41 per cent for safety orders and 42 per cent for protection orders.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said today that it was encouraging to see an increase in people using the “forward looking protective orders provided by the State”.

“However, the increase in applications is also a stark reminder of how vital these protections are for so many,” she said. “Women’s Aid answered 11,729 calls in 2012, and we know that this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

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Recent EU research showed that under reporting is significant, with only 33 per cent of partner violence being reported to police.

Martin pointed out that for thousands of women who experience abuse in dating relationships, legal protection from domestic violence “doesn’t go far enough, and they do not qualify for these protective orders”.

In total, there were were 14,792 incidents of domestic violence disclosed to the Women’s Aid helpline in 2012. A charity offer support to abused men also said in 2012 that it has been its busiest year of service.

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