UN Women stats that less than 40% of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort. In the majority of countries with available data on this issue, among women who do seek help, most look to family and friends and very few look to formal institutions, such as police and health services. Less than 10 per cent of those seeking help appealed to the police (the Worlds Women, 2020).
In our new research on young people and intimate relationship abuse we found that 3 in 4 young people (aged 18 to 25) who have experienced intimate relationship abuse, have sought some form of support. However, we found that men are more likely to reach out for support than women. The main sources of support are family and friends. 32% of women and 16% of men never spoke to anyone about the abuse. The common barriers young women faced in relation to seeking support include: a loss of trust in their own judgement, fear for their safety, feeling ashamed and being unsure of where to turn. Read more about our new research on intimate relationship abuse and young people here.
Last year, Women’s Aid carried out independent research to help better understand the support needs of women experiencing abuse from current or ex-intimate partners and identify the gaps that currently exist. The survey was an important opportunity to gain a snapshot view into the services women in Ireland do – and do not - access when experiencing domestic violence and abuse. It was a chance to learn what is most helpful to women and what barriers there may be for them seeking help. This survey will also help us gain feedback into our own services so that Women’s Aid can continue to grow, develop and provide an excellent response to those in need.
In the survey we found that 33% or 305 of women did not seek help for the abuse they were suffering – 54% said that it was for fear of people finding out what had happened to them and 48% did not tell anyone because they were afraid of the perpetrator. 40% of respondents also indicated the following reasons for not speaking to anyone: stigma, shame and self-shame; not wanting to identify/be seen as a victim; fear of not being believed or feeling isolated. Read more about the survey in our Annual Impact Report 2019.
Women need to know that the abuse they are experiencing is never their fault, that that they will be believed, and that there is support there - for anyone who suffers in this way. This a constant message that we need to promote in society. We need to eliminate violence against women and a big part of that process involves normalising and promoting reaching out and seeking help.