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"Women were cut with knives, stabbed, spat on, punched, slapped, kicked, held down and choked."

There were 16,464 disclosures of domestic abuse in Ireland last year – over 45 a day.

Image: Shutterstock/LoloStock

WOMEN’S AID, THE domestic abuse charity, says that women are still being blamed when they are victims of domestic violence.

The charity has released its annual report for 2014 today, showing that there were 16,464 disclosures of domestic abuse in Ireland last year, along with 5,786 cases of child abuse.

Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid, says that the range of abuses is “horrifying”.

In 2014, women told us that they were kept prisoner in their own homes, cut with knives, stabbed, spat on, punched, slapped, kicked, held down and choked and beaten with household items with many women disclosing that they were beaten during pregnancy.
Women told us that they were constantly verbally abused, belittled, criticised, blamed and stalked and harassed, including online, both during the relationship and after leaving. Women reported that they had been raped, sexually assaulted and given no option but to comply with their abusers sexual demands.
Women’s freedom and options had been curtailed because of sustained financial abuse including being denied household monies, being forced to take out loans in their names only and having their employment jeopardised.

The charity is planning on extending its freephone helpine to a 24-hour service, but has been informed that its statutory funding has been cut by 20% by Tusla.

Victim blaming

Martin says that Irish society is still blaming women who are beaten by their partners.

Common questions like ‘why don’t you just leave?’ are so minimising and damaging.  This victim blaming response feeds into the isolation that women feel and reinforces what their abusers tell them, that it is their fault and, by implication, that they can stop the abuse.

She says that this indifference extends to state agencies and the gardaí.

“2015 needs to be a turning point for women and children affected by domestic violence in Ireland.  We intend to build on the successes of the last four decades by addressing the existing cracks in the system and societal barriers which continue to put women and children at risk.

“We want a sea change in how domestic violence is understood and we must challenge the inequality and sexism that lies at the heart of men’s violence against women.”

The Women’s Aid national freephone helpline can be reached on 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

Read: There were 25 calls seeking help after a rape every day last year

Read: Two out of every three victims of rape won’t report it to the authorities – why?

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