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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 1°C
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Coronavirus

Women report being strangled, raped and beaten as calls to helpline surge during lockdown

There was also a spike in the number of visits to the charity’s website.

CALLS TO CHARITY Women’s Aid have risen by nearly 40% since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions. 

New figures released today by the organisation show that it received over 4,000 calls to its 24-hour domestic abuse helpline since late March – a 39% increase on the same period last year. 

The charity says that women have disclosed being strangled, raped, beaten during the crisis – with others describing the feeling of being trapped in homes with abusive partners. 

“Highlighting the safety of ‘home’ has been paramount during Covid-19. However, this crisis has also focused minds on homes that are not safe at all,” Women’s Aid CEO Sarah Benson said. 

“We have spoken to women who have been attacked with weapons and fists, who are being verbally abused, controlled and monitored at all times. Women with underlying health issues have reported that their partners are not adhering to Covid-19 restrictions deliberately.”

Visits to the charity’s website have also increased by 74% on the same period last year. 

A rise in domestic abuse has been a major cause for concern during the pandemic. Gardaí have implemented Operation Faoisimh and have emphasised that support for victims will not stop because of the virus. 

A new advertising campaign was also launched to reassure domestic violence victims that services are still available. 

“The dire impacts on women’s physical and mental wellbeing are already acutely evident,” Benson said.

“We are really concerned that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and an essential part of post Covid-19 planning must be increasing the supports and protections to maximise the safety and well-being of victims of domestic abuse, including sexual abuse and coercive control.”

She called on the next government to do more to support victims of domestic abuse, including investing more in services and prioritising reform of the Family Law court system. 

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