Commenting on today’s statistics from the Courts Service (click here) which show a strong pattern of increased applications for Protection and Safety Orders, Margaret Martin, Director, said she was not surprised as eligibility for these orders was extended in August 2011 to couples with a child in common. Women’s Aid had lobbied for almost a decade to secure this extension as approximately 10% of callers to its National Freephone Helpline were women not living with their partner but who had a child in common.
Equally the drop in Barring Orders is unsurprising as many women report how difficult it is to get a Barring Order especially where there has not been recent physical violence. Many abusive partners are aware of this and instead use emotional, financial and sexual abuse to control and undermine their partners. Where a Barring Order application is unsuccessful it is likely that a Safety Order would be granted which would add to the increase in the number of Safety orders. In addition with the current housing crisis, some women do not want to see their partners homeless despite the abuse and instead apply for a Safety Order
Women's Aid supports women seeking legal protection from domestic violence in a number of ways including via our National Freephone Helpline, our Dublin based court accompaniment service and our drop in service at Dolphin House. Our National Helpline also refers women to local services who provide similar support. In our Impact Report for 2014 Women’s Aid outlined the difficulties women face when negotiating the legal system in the context of domestic violence. In 2014, 37% of the information, referral and advocacy work by the Helpline and One to One service were in support of women accessing and negotiating the legal system for protection and our one to one support workers went to court 191 times with 109 women in the Greater Dublin area. The current waiting time from making an application to hearing at Dolphin House is approximately 14 weeks. These waiting times can leave women and children in vulnerable and dangerous situations. Confronting a technical court system with unfamiliar language and procedures can be intimidating. This can be compounded by many factors, including the fear of facing the abuser in a court of law and the very real threat and fear of retaliation by him.
Women find being accompanied to court very helpful. Women making applications for orders under domestic violence legislation experience great stress. Our support empowers women to face their abuser and follow through on court processes. The support workers stay with the woman for as long as is needed on the actual day. They shield her from her abuser and try to ensure any negotiations are in her best interests and will enhance her and her children’s safety. Women’s Aid support is vital with many women tell us that without support they do not think they would attend hearings.
For more information contact Christina Sherlock on 087 919 2457 or by email Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org
The Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, seven days a week.
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