Supporting a Friend: Sinéad Desmond Launches the Women’s Aid Public Awareness Campaign

30 Nov 2009

  • Friends and family urged to store the Women's Aid Helpline in their phone contacts
  • Purple phone charms and advice card being distributed nationwide

Women's Aid is launching a public awareness campaign to promote its National Freephone Helpline. The 'Support a Friend' Phone charm Campaign targets the friends and family of women affected by domestic violence. The purple charm, in the shape of a traditional style telephone, signifies the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline. The advice card that accompanies the charm offers practical information on how to support a loved one living with abuse.

Speaking in support of the campaign, Sinéad Desmond, co-anchor of Ireland AM on TV3, said: "Domestic abuse is something we are still afraid to talk about in Ireland. But Women's Aid is changing that. Their helpline offers real support and the chance to leave behind a life of violent abuse to women who feel as if they have nowhere to turn. Thanks to Women's Aid, women who are victims of domestic abuse can become survivors of domestic abuse."

She continued: "Many of us have seen women struggle to escape domestic abuse and for those of you who have not you may not realise it but chances are you already know someone who is a victim of abuse. It might be one of your friends, a family member or a work colleague. So domestic abuse is an issue for all women, not just those living in fear, which is why I wholeheartedly support the Women's Aid 16 Days of Action Campaign."

"It is time for us to talk about what goes on behind closed doors and to put an end to the abuse. No women should ever have to suffer domestic abuse. But there is life after an abusive relationship, and Women's Aid helps women to make that journey. If you or someone you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse phone the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 7 Days a week 10am - 10pm. You can make it all end now, just pick up the phone."

Sarah Benson, Manager of the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline said, "Every day in Ireland women are raped, beaten and abused by those closest to them - their boyfriends, partners and husbands. One in five women in Ireland experience domestic violence. Research shows that, quite often, the first person a woman living with abuse speaks to is to a member of their family or a close friend. But we often hear from callers to the Helpline that they are unsure of the best way to support their loved one living with abuse. We are asking people to store the National Freephone Helpline number in their mobile phones should anyone they know every need it. We also hope that the information we have included on the phone charm advice card will help those supporting a loved one."

Thousands of the phone charms will be distributed free of charge to Gardaí, maternity hospitals, community groups, libraries, local and national elected representatives, citizen information centres, family resource centres and women's support services over the coming days. They will also be available in our two Dublin Wa Wa based charity shops in Aungier Street and Dundrum. The phone charms will be given out in 21 third level institutions as part of a dedicated Union of Students of Ireland (USI) day of action on the last day of the campaign (10th December, International Human Rights Day).

The public awareness campaign is part of the Women's Aid 'Breaking the Silence around Domestic Violence' Campaign launched on 25th November outside Dáil Éireann. This is a part of the International 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women (25th November to 10th December). Groups nationwide are highlighting violence against women during the campaign.

The Women's Aid Helpline is open from 10am - 10pm, 7 days a week 1800 341 900


For more information contact Christina Sherlock at 01-8684721 or 087-9192457.

Notes to Editors\Producers

  • Pictures from Paul Sharp, Sharppix on 086-6689087/
  • The 'Support A Friend' Phone Charm advice card suggests that: storing the National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 in your list of contacts; listening to her, never judging her and allowing her to make her own decision; letting her know you are there for practical support (solicitors, Gardaí, hospital); encourages people to visit the Women's Aid website ( for further support and to also to look after their own well being in such a difficult time. It is funded by Cosc, the National Officer for Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
  • Women's Aid is a voluntary organisation, which provides support and information to women experiencing domestic violence. Women's Aid operates a National Freephone Helpline Service from 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week and a One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service.
  • Women's Aid is also deeply worried about the impact of the recession on its National Helpline and other support services and the organisation's annual Christmas appeal has started. From our experience we know that the Women's Aid Helpline is quite literally a lifeline for women living with domestic violence. In 2009 Women's Aid experienced cutbacks in funding and 2010 looks even bleaker.
  • The International Day against Violence against Women is the first day of the Global 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women Campaign, which ends on 10th December, International Human Rights Day. As part of the 16 Days of Action Women's Aid will run its annual public action and email and online awareness campaign and other activities. More details on Women's Aid and local events can be found at
  • The 16 Days Campaign is also endorsed by Mary Robinson, Laura Whitmore, Claire Byrne, Martina Devlin, Avon, Rebecca Miller, Colm O'Gorman, Fergus Finlay, Senator Ivana Bacik, Ruth Gilligan, An Garda Síochána, Concern, Focus Ireland and others.
  • Research shows that 1 in 5 women in Ireland experience abuse.
  • The Women's Aid Helpline responded to 10,140 calls in 2008 during which 15,158 incidents of domestic violence were disclosed. There were 9,101 incidents of emotional abuse disclosed, 3,355 incidents of physical abuse, and 1,900 incidents of financial abuse. 802 incidents of sexual abuse, which is traditionally not disclosed by women experiencing domestic violence, were recorded, with 281 rapes within relationships being reported to the service.