Women’s Aid launches its National Freephone Helpline promotion campaign aimed at encouraging domestic abuse victims to break their silence and seek support.
Plans announced for the National Domestic Abuse Free Helpline to become a 24/7 service in 2016.
Encouraging public to share its national Helpline number using the hashtag #DontBeAfraid & to donate to Women’s Aid.
Campaign supported by TV3’s Midday anchor Elaine Crowley.
Today, Monday 5th October 2015 Women’s Aid, the national agency supporting women and children affected by domestic violence, launches its ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ public awareness advertising campaign. The campaign encourages women living with domestic abuse to speak up and call the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900. One in five women in Ireland is affected by domestic abuse but we know that over one third of those will never speak to anyone about it. The two week long national radio, online and poster promotion campaign also includes a mail out of information packs to nearly 500 professionals and organisations that support women affected by domestic abuse and to places where women seek help and information. The special packs include posters, leaflets and other items promoting the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline.
Speaking at the start of the campaign, Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid says: "We understand how difficult it is for women experiencing domestic abuse to talk about what is happening. Many women are afraid that they will not be believed or that they will blamed for the abuse. Others struggle to find the words to describe their situation. All too often, women feel alone and isolated, unaware that help is available or unable to make sense of what is being done to them."
Ms Martin explains, "It is our sincere hope that through our radio advertising we can speak directly to a woman who is living in fear, and who may be sitting at home, or listening in her car on the way to work or on the school run, and tell her that she is not alone. Like many women who ring our National Freephone Helpline, she may be too upset to talk about what she is going through. We're ready to listen and help her find the words she needs."
Speaking in support of the campaign, leading TV3 broadcaster and presenter of Midday, Elaine Crowley says: "I am delighted to support the Women's Aid 'Don't Be Afraid' campaign urging women to speak up about domestic abuse. I know women are famous for talking to each other about all that life throws at us but in the case of domestic abuse, many women feel unable to tell even their closest family or friends. Others do not even know how to start to describe the terrible abuse they are suffering. But I would like to say to any woman in this situation - don’t be afraid to call Women’s Aid, if you are afraid of someone close. They are there to listen to you and to support you. It is a first step to a safer life. I also encourage all of us to share the Women’s Aid number online using the hashtag #DontBeAfraid – you never know who might need it.”
Ms Martin agrees, "When a woman rings our Helpline the person on the other end of the line will understand her situation, will not judge her and will not tell her what to do. We will listen and support her and all calls are treated in the strictest confidence."
Women’s Aid also announced details of its plans to make its national Freephone Helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from 1st January 2016 in line with recommendations from the Istanbul Convention. Ms Martin explains, “We are in the middle of implementing our plans to change from a 12 hour a day to 24 hours a day Helpline service. We know how important it is to be available for women whenever they need us. That might be in the early hours of the morning before the kids wake up, or the middle of the night after an attack by her partner. Or it might be just the right time for her to want to speak to someone. From January 1st 2016 I am delighted that our service will become available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Women’s Aid wants the Don’t Be Afraid campaign to offer hope to women living with abuse. Ms Martin concluded, “Women experiencing domestic violence are in a bleak black place and it is difficult to find a way out. But we know that there is hope and Women’s Aid is here to help. We regularly hear from women who are now free from abuse, who feel good about themselves and have gotten their lives back.”
Women’s Aid appealed for donation from the public. Anyone who wishes to donate to their service can do so online at www.womensaid.ie/donate or by sending donations direct to Women's Aid, 5 Wilton Place, Dublin 2. You can also text ACTION to 50300 to donate €4. (100% of your donation goes to Women’s Aid across most network operators. Some operators apply VAT which means a minimum of €3.25 will go to Women’s Aid. Service provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 0766805278.)
The Women's Aid 'Don't Be Afraid' National Public Awareness Campaign runs from today, Monday 5th October 2015 for two weeks. The campaign is funded by Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (www.cosc.ie).
For more information contact Christina Sherlock, Communications and Campaigns Officer, 01-678 8858 or 087 919 2457.
Information for producers and researchers:
Spokeswomen available for interview. Interviews with survivors of domestic abuse may be arranged on an anonymous basis. Written case study available here.
Pictures of Elaine Crowley, TV3 and Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid sent to picture desks on Monday 5th October 2015 at 10am. Contact: Paul Sharp at email@example.com or 086-6689087.
Currently, the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, seven days a week. This will change to 24 hours a day, seven days a week from 1st January 2016.
More information on our services available at www.womensaid.ie
Since Women’s Aid records began in 1996, 209 women have been murdered in Ireland. 62% of women were killed in their own homes. In 55% of resolved cases the woman was murdered by her partner or ex-partner. 99% of perpetrators are men. (Women’s Aid Female Homicide Media Watch 1996 – 30th September 2015).
Domestic abuse can happen to any woman, in any home and at any stage in her life. In 2014, women told us that they were kept prisoner in their own homes, cut with knives, stabbed, spat on, punched, slapped, kicked, held down and choked and beaten with household items with many women disclosing that they were beaten during pregnancy. Women told us that they were constantly verbally abused, belittled, criticised, blamed and stalked and harassed, including online, both during the relationship and after leaving. Women reported that they had been raped, sexually assaulted and given no option but to comply with their abusers sexual demands. Women's freedom and options had been curtailed because of sustained financial abuse including being denied household monies, being forced to take out loans in their names only and having their employment jeopardised. Women’s Aid hears from women who feel trapped, alone, isolated with limited options and whose journey to safety can be long and difficult.
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.)