Women’s Aid Comments on District Court Domestic Violence Applications and Orders

13 Aug 2015

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.sherlock@womensaid.ie

The Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, seven days a week.

www.womensaid.ie

Notes for editors/producers:

  • Women's Aid is the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence through its Direct Services. It runs the only free, national, domestic violence helpline (1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, 7 days) with specialised trained staff & volunteers, accredited by the Helplines Partnership and with a Telephone Interpretation Service covering 170 languages for callers needing interpreting services as well as a Text Service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing women. Women's Aid also offers a Dublin-based One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service and runs the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service in the Dublin District Family Law Court (in partnership with Dublin 12 Domestic Violence Service and Inchicore Outreach Centre.)
  • The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline answered 11,167 calls in 2014 (31 calls a day). There were 707 one to one support visits and 191 court accompaniments carried out by its One to One Support Services.  An additional 313 drop-in sessions took place at the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service.  We also provided additional telephone support in our One to one services on 1,277 occasions in 2014.
  • 65% of contacts were first time contacts while 35% of contacts were by repeat users of our services.
  • There were 16,464 disclosures of domestic violence to Women’s Aid Direct Services in 2014 including 10,653 disclosures of emotional abuse, 3,470 disclosures of physical abuse, 595 disclosures of sexual abuse (Including 176 disclosures of rape) and 1,746 disclosures of financial abuse. 
  • Full Impact Report 2014 available here and Executive Summary available here.