Wednesday 18th March 2020: Women's Aid, a national frontline organisation supporting victims of domestic violence, is calling for the safety of women and children affected by abuse to be a priority during the current Coronavirus pandemic. The organisation is deeply concerned about the impact of the crisis on the safety of women and children affected by domestic abuse. It believes that women self-isolating and working from home are more at risk from their abusive partners and are more exposed to their controlling behaviour, verbal abuse and violence. There are worrying reports from China and Italy that indicate an increase in domestic violence incidents during the Covid-19 crisis. Women’s Aid calls on the Government to make sure women experiencing domestic abuse are not abandoned and ignored during this period.
Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid says:
“It’s true that for many of us home is a place of safety in a time uncertainty. But for thousands of women and children across Ireland, home is a place of violence and fear. It is important to remember that workplaces and schools often offer sanctuary for victims of domestic violence. Job losses, remote working, self-isolation and other measures are already impacting on victims. The reality that the abuser may also be at home more, or all the time, is a very frightening one. Many women and children will spend the next few weeks in suffocating circumstances with their abusers because of the measures to combat Covid-19. There are women trapped inside with their abuser who are using this opportunity to further his control.”
Ms Benson continues:
“Our National Helpline is hearing from women already at a heightened state of alert, trauma and anxiety because of the emergency. There is a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances which could see an increase in the number and the severity of incidents of domestic abuse. The current crisis will also bring increased financial hardship for families in these circumstances and is also reducing options for victims to be able to leave dangerous situations."
Due to Covid-19 restrictions Women’s Aid has taken action to protect the health and safety of its staff, volunteers and women accessing its domestic violence services. Despite the uncertainty, Women’s Aid reassures women that its services remain available for those who need them.
Ms Benson outlines:
“Women’s Aid is committed to listening, believing and support women experiencing domestic abuse, especially at this time of increased need. The staff and volunteer of the 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 are working to provide the same level of support to callers and our face to face and court support workers have moved to providing specialist support by phone.”
Women’s Aid has also been in contact with the Courts, Safe Ireland, local domestic violence support services, refuges and An Garda Síochána and acknowledge the collective efforts being made to ensure women who need support and legal protection receive it as far as possible, in these exceptional circumstances.
Ms Benson concludes:
“Safety in this time of crisis is paramount and we encourage women to reach out and find support. It is the duty of An Garda Síochána to investigate all incidents of domestic abuse and provide the appropriate information, support and protection to those affected according to their needs. Women who feel in immediate danger should call 112/999. At this time of national emergency we have a collective responsibility to look out for and help, in a safe way, women and children left vulnerable to abuse.”
Women’s Aid also has useful information on our website www.womensaid.ie about safety planning and guidance for family and friends when supporting a loved one affected by abuse. The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline is available on 1800 341 900.
Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 www.womensaid.ie.
For more information call Christina Sherlock on 0879192457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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