Tuesday 9th June 2020: Women’s Aid, a national frontline organisation supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse, today responded to the new figures from An Garda Síochána on their response to domestic violence victims during the Covid-19 pandemic. The organisation's CEO, Sarah Benson, says
“The figures released by An Garda Síochána are a significant insight to women’s experience of abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic and the criminal nature of domestic violence. The increased reporting highlights the important role Gardaí play in the protection of those being abused in their own homes. It is encouraging to see priority being given to the issue of domestic violence through Operation Faoiseamh by the leadership and rank and file Garda members. It also services as a reminder to domestic violence perpetrators that they can and will be prosecuting for breaching domestic violence orders. We hope that this will continue after the crisis is over. We know that only a small percentage of victims ever contact the Garda so today's figures are only the tip of the iceberg."
Ms Benson continues:
"When most of us think of home we think of a place of sanctuary and security. A place to retreat from the pressures of the outside world. Highlighting the safety of ‘home’ has been paramount during the Covid-19 emergency. However, this crisis has also focussed minds on homes that are not safe at all. Since late March Women’s Aid has been on the frontline answering calls from women who are trapped at home with very dangerous abusers. We have spoken to women who have been attacked with weapons and fists, who are being verbally abused, controlled and monitored at all times. Women with underlying health issues have reported that their partners are not adhering to Covid-19 restrictions deliberately."
Women’s Aid has supported callers on over 4,000 occasions since late March 2020 (up 39% on the same period last year) with women disclosing high levels of emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse from their partners. The organisation has also seen a huge spike (+74%) in traffic to its website which provides useful resources and information for victims of abuse and also provides a crucial online instant chat service for women unable to literally 'speak out'.
Ms Benson concludes:
"Home has not been a safe place for thousands of women and children affected by domestic abuse over the last two months. The Covid-19 restrictions providing the ideal environment for abusers to exert their power and dominance in homes across Ireland. Women’s Aid and other domestic violence support services around the country are supporting victims and survivors every day during this pandemic. The dire impacts on women’s physical and mental wellbeing are already acutely evident. We are really concerned that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and an essential part of post Covid-19 planning must be continuing to treat domestic abuse as a priority issue, increasing the supports and protections to maximise the safety and well-being of victims of domestic abuse, including sexual abuse and coercive control.”
Safety in this time of crisis is paramount and Women’s Aid is encouraging victims to reach out and find support from the 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 www.womensaid.ie. Details of other specialist domestic and sexual abuse support services, including services for male victims, are available at www.stillhere.ie. Anyone who feels in immediate danger should call 112/999.
For more information: Call Christina Sherlock on 0879192457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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