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Domestic violence figures a 'sad indictment of Irish society'

More than 11,000 women and children looked for safety from home violence last year.

Image: Miriam Doerr via Shutterstock

A GROUP PROVIDING frontline services to women and children affected by domestic violence has recorded a massive leap in demand for its refuges.

Safe Ireland revealed that nearly 8,000 women and more than 3,000 children received support last year – an increase of 56 per cent since comprehensive records were first compiled five years ago.

Since 2010, there has been a rise in demand of 15 per cent.

“I think these figures are horrific and a sad indictment of Irish society,” said director Sharon O’Halloran. “We are dealing with a crime that is committed nearly every hour and certainly every day of the year.

Domestic abuse is heart breaking and it is definitely the most under-reported, largely undocumented and certainly unprosecuted crime in the country.

During 2011, 1,686 women and 2,142 children were admitted to Safe Ireland refuges across the country. The other women who received support did so in the form of counselling, advocacy or court accompaniment. A total of 42,383 calls to the helpline were answered in the 12-month period.

Data from the year, however, also shows that women were refused refuge on more than 2,500 occasions because of a lack of space or facilities in the area. The corresponding figure for children was 2,302.

Responding to the sharp and “unsustainable” increase in demand for its frontline services, Safe Ireland has launched a new campaign (entitled Man Up) to switch the focus from the needs and views of survivors to the actions and words of those who control and abuse.

“We all have to man up about domestic violence,” continued O’Halloran, before calling on the Government to properly and adequately resource the new Child and Family Support agency.

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As a small nation, Ireland could become one of the safest in the world for women and children, according to the organisation. There are already plans in place for a Safety Audit, which will use indicators beyond bald statistics to measure how safe Irish society actually is.

Safe Ireland hopes that its new campaign will put “the warped rationale of men who abuse out in the open”.

“The more the perverse message of abusers is shared beyond the privacy of closed doors, the more it will be exposed, challenged and changed,” concluded O’Halloran.

The situations are communicated in a radio ad, as well as a series of web videos.

More: Women’s Aid calls for review of laws around domestic abuse

Read: Four out of five women turned away from overstretched domestic violence centres

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