Over the last 9 months Women’s Aid has been on the frontline answering calls from women who are trapped at home with very dangerous abusers. Women have told us of the devastating effects that lockdown restrictions have had on them. Abusers have used the restrictions as an excuse not to leave after they have been violent. When abusers did not have physical access to current or former partners, they persisted with the abuse through text, phone call, video call and social media. Women with underlying health conditions also reported instances of their partners deliberately not adhering to Covid-19 restrictions and effectively weaponising the virus by coughing or spitting on them.
On the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline there was a 43% increase in calls responded to during the first national lockdown from the end of March to the end of June. Women were reaching out to us in the dead of night when their abusers were asleep from the car, from the garden shed and with the shower running. At this time, we are receiving roughly 1,000 more calls a month than before the pandemic. Callers have been reporting increased anxiety about abusive partners continuing to work from home with more opportunity to abuse and control them. The number of women calling with suicidal ideation has also increased and more and more women are calling in the middle if the night when their abusive partner is asleep. The number of messages to our Instant Messaging Support Service has also increased with women reaching out to seek support silently.
A new report from Safe Ireland now shows that on average, 1,970 women and 411 children have received some type of support from a domestic violence service each month since March and of those women and children, an average of 575 new women and 98 children accessed this service for the first time.
We encourage anyone who needs support in relation to domestic violence in a personal context or otherwise to reach out to us on the 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 or the Instant Messaging Support Service available on the Women’s Aid Website. Women’s Aid is committed to listening, believing and supporting women effected by domestic abuse, especially at this time of increased need.
Read the full report: When Home is Not safe, Domestic Abuse During the Covid-19 Emergency.