Day 13: Women's Aid offers support in 170+ languages

Posted on December 07, 2016 at 01:20 PM


The women we support are diverse and come from all walks of life. Domestic violence can affect any woman, at any age and from any background.  Today we look at the additional barriers women from Migrant communities face.

339 callers to the National Freephone Helpline in 2014 identified that they were Migrant women and 27% of the new women we saw in 2015 in our One to One Service were migrant women.

Just over half were from other EU member states while 47% were from non EU countries.

The additional barriers faced by migrant women affected by domestic violence include:

  • the impact of the lack of independent residency status.
  • ineligibility for social protection.
  • limited access to emergency accommodation.

Women may also face pressures and have a reduced number of options because of their cultural or religious backgrounds. For migrant women with particularly complicated cases Women’s Aid works alongside migrant rights organisations such as the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council. Women’s Aid is also an active member of a domestic violence migrant women’s rights coalition with representatives from national domestic violence and migrant services looking to improve policies for migrant women experiencing domestic violence.

The Women’s Aid Telephone Interpretation Service is providing an essential service to women, whose first language is not English and who are experiencing domestic violence.

 In 2015 we continued our National Freephone Helpline Telephone Interpretation Service which allows us to support women in over 170 languages. In 2015, 176 calls were facilitated in 23 languages. Some of these calls were initiated by professionals (Gardaí, Refuge service and GPs) in their quest to support the woman presenting to them.

Victims of domestic violence very often experience isolation from family, friends and the community and having limited access/support from services in the local community, because of the language barrier, this can further isolate women.

Using the Interpreter service via the Helpline is a very simple process and usually takes no more than a couple of minutes before we engage an interpreter, for the requested language, to facilitate a conversation between the caller and the Helpline support worker. We aim to continue, with the support of our funders and our committed staff and volunteer team, to increase the accessibility of our service.

72% of callers who used the Telephone Interpretation Service spoke a range of EU languages including Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese and Romanian. Polish speakers were the biggest group but are also the largest minority in the country at 2.7% of the population. The non-EU languages included Arabic, Mandarin and Russian.

Maria*, who had married an Irish man several months previously and come to Ireland knowing no-one and speaking no English, disclosed experiencing serious abuse. She felt scared for her life and alone. On calling the Women's Aid Helpline, she was connected with a translator and was immediately able to speak with a support worker who understood her situation and had information on appropriate services to support her. After a few calls to our service she went on to access refuge accommodation where she found safety and support.

*not her real name.

Online information in 8 languages

Research shows that minority ethnic women experiencing domestic violence face additional barriers to seeking help and living lives free of violence. These barriers include the lack of accessible information and support services in different languages.

Therefore, with support from the HSE Social Inclusion Unit, key sections of the Women's Aid are translated into eight different languages - ArabicChineseFrenchPolishRomanian,RussianSpanish, and Irish

The translated information available online includes sections on types of abuse, warning signs of an abusive relationship, information on safety planning and detailed information about Women's Aid services.

How to access the Telephone Interpretation Service

If English is not your first language, we can help you.

The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline can offer support women in over 170 languages through our Telephone Interpretation Service.

If you would like to speak to us please contact the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. – the interpretation service is available from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. It is a confidential service and is free of charge to the caller. .  We will listen, believe and support you.

  •  Tell us what language you speak.
  • We will ask you to hold. This process takes a few minutes. Please wait until we comes back to you.
  • We will connect you with an interpreter.
  • The interpreter will then help you to speak to us in your own language.

This service is free and confidential.

For more information visit

Permanent link | Categories: 16 Facts for 16 DaysDay 137th December 2016