Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, today welcomed the publication of new guidelines for social workers on responding to women living with domestic violence. The report, 'Practice document on domestic violence - a guide for working with children and families' was launched by the HSE Dublin South West Social Work Children and Families Department. Speaking after the launch, Margaret said, "The new guidelines are a very positive development which will increase the safety of women and children living with domestic violence. There is a growing awareness that stopping domestic violence isn't as simple as telling the woman to leave. As a key national organisation that has been supporting women for over 35 years, we know that leaving an abusive relationship is fraught with difficulty."
Ms Martin continued: "Whilst the risk of staying can be very high, simply leaving the relationship does not guarantee that the violence will stop. In fact, the period during which a woman is planning or making her exit, is often the most dangerous for her and her children. 51% of women murdered in Ireland over the last 14 years have been killed by their current or former partner with many killed at the point of/or after leaving a relationship. We also know that almost one fifth of callers to our National Freephone Helpline in 2008 were experiencing abuse by their former partners including stalking, physical assault and abuse during access arrangements."
The report, published by the HSE Dublin South West Social Work Children and Families Department is the outcome of inter-agency work between local domestic violence services, local community groups and social work professionals. It contains a number of important recommendations and guidelines for social work professionals working with families and children in the context of domestic violence. These are based on the principles of 'Recognise, Respond, Refer'. The guidelines also state that, in the context of domestic violence, protecting women is the best way to protect children.
Ms Martin agreed with this adding: "Women's Aid works from the principle that ensuring women's safety is the best form of child protection. We work with hundreds of women on a one to one basis to plan their safety and to discuss their options. We recognise the woman as the best person to judge her situation. We work with her to maximise her and her children's safety."
Ms Martin concluded: "Every day in Ireland women are raped, beaten and abused by those closest to them - their boyfriends, partners and husbands. There are many reasons that women can not and do not leave. But we know that the quality of response that women receive from professionals like social workers, domestic violence support organisations, and local community groups they may disclose to is likely to have a significant influence on their decision making. A woman should not be judged or told what to do when she discloses domestic violence. It is important that a woman receives support to enable her to increase her safety and that of her children, regardless of the choices she makes about her relationship with her abuser. That is why these guidelines are a very positive development."
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