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Huge increase in women and children seeking domestic violence services

Sonas has reported a 163 per cent increase in women and children seeking their services, partly attributed to the recession.

Library photo posed by model
Library photo posed by model
Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

THREE TIMES MORE women and children in Ireland are homeless because of domestic violence since last year, according to a new study.

The domestic violence charity Sonas Housing has reported a 163 per cent increase in the use of its services in 2010, owing partly to the opening of two new services in Dublin but it said the prevalence of domestic violence can increase during a recession.

In total the charity supported 184 women and 234 children in 2010 compared to 70 women in and 88 children in 2009.

It said the recession can contribute to trapping women in domestic violence situations as they feel they have a lack of options.

Sonas also highlighted the difficulty it has had in accommodating people because of the surge in demand.

There were 433 enquiries for a crisis refuge service or supported housing but only 40 per cent of those demands could be catered for.  Nearly 250 enquiries or 60 per cent had to be turned away because services were at full capacity.

Responding to the findings, CEO of Sonas Sharon Cosgrove admitted turning people away was ‘crushing’:

It is very difficult to turn women away – the majority of the women who call us are in dire abusive situations. Picking up the phone to a domestic violence service can be a massive step so it’s crushing if they do not receive a positive response.

The annual report also noted that 66 per cent of applicants for services had mental health support needs, 23 per cent had recognised addiction needs and 16 per cent had both.

Sonas has supported housing in eight different areas in Dublin and opened a women’s refuge in Dublin 15 last year providing support for women and children made homeless due to domestic violence and other gender-based violence, such as sex-trafficking.

The charity says that Ireland currently lags well behind the UK and the Council of Europe standards when it comes to providing sufficient support to families in need of their services.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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