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Women's Aid says it's preparing for surge in contacts from women experiencing abuse during Level 5

The charity said that the number of calls it responded to rose significantly during the first lockdown.

Image: Shutterstock/Doidam 10

THE CHARITY WOMEN’S Aid has said it fears that opportunities to reach out to those suffering from domestic violence will be curtailed due to the Level 5 restrictions that came into effect across the country this morning. 

Today, the organisation is urging community vigilance and is encouraging women to reach out and seek support as we enter the second lockdown.

During the height of the previous lockdown, Women’s Aid said it responded to a 43% increase in calls from women who were trapped with abusers at home.

Many of the women had to think of ways to get in touch secretly, such as calling from their car, from the garden shed, or from their bathroom with the shower running.

The charity – which operates a 24hr national freephone helpline, an online chat support and Dublin-based one-to-one and court support services – said it is preparing for a further surge in contacts from women experiencing abuse from their partners in the coming weeks. 

Women’s Aid chief executive Sarah Benson said: “In his address to the nation on Monday night, Taoiseach Michéal Martin acknowledged increased levels of domestic violence as a real impact of the new restrictions.  We echo that concern. 

“At the moment, the 24hr National Freephone Helpline has been receiving to roughly 1,000 more calls a month than normal.  We expect that number to increase even further now that Level 5 restrictions come into force.”

Benson said her organisation will work to ensure that supports can still be given to respond to women’s needs during Level 5. 

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“Many women and children will spend the next few weeks in suffocating circumstances with their abusers because of the renewed measures to combat Covid-19,” she said.

Over the last eight months, women told us that their partners were using the lockdown restrictions as an excuse not to leave after they had been violent. When abusers couldn’t get access to their current of former partners, their abuse persisted through text messages, phone calls and video calls and also through online means.

She added that An Garda Síochána had provided assurances that domestic violence remains a priority to tackle during lockdown and that the 5km limit does not apply to someone fleeing abuse.

Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 www.womensaid.ie

Support for male victims, the National Male Advice line 1800 816 588. Details of all services available across the country can be accessed via www.stillhere.ie.

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Sean Murray

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