National and International Statistics

Prevalence of domestic violence in Ireland

  • 1 in 5 women in Ireland who have been in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner. (O,Connor, M, & Kelleher Associates, Making the Links, Women's Aid, 1995).
  • In 2018, there were 16,994 disclosures of domestic violence against women noted during 19,089 contacts with Women's Aid Direct Services. There were 11,112 incidents of emotional abuse, 3,816 incidents of physical abuse and 1,540 incidents of financial abuse disclosed. In the same year, 528incidents of sexual abuse were disclosed to our services including 226 rapes. The Women's Aid National Helpline responded to 15,835 calls in 2018. (Women's Aid Impact Report 2018)
  • In 2018, the Women's Aid One to One Support Service provided 721one to one support visits, accommodated 257 court accompaniments and gave further telephone support to, and advocacy for, women on 1,685 occasions throughout the year.
  • There were 591 drop in visits at the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service in 2018.  (Women's Aid Impact Report 2018)
  • In a 2014 study entitled 'Violence against85 women: An EU-wide survey' by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), it was reported that 14% of women in Ireland have experienced physical violence by a partner since age 15. 6% of Irish women have experienced sexual violence by a current or former partner and 31% of women have experienced psychological violence by a partner. 12% of Irish respondents in the FRA study had experienced stalking (including cyber stalking).
  • The FRA survey revealed that Ireland has the second highest number of women avoiding places or situations for fear of being assaulted out of all EU countries. 33% of Irish respondents thought that violence against women was very common, and 50% thought it was fairly common. 41% of Irish women know someone in their circle of family or friends who have experienced intimate partner violence (FRA, 2014).
  • The FRA study demonstrated high levels of awareness of organisations providing assistance to victims of violence against women. 80% of interviewees were aware of Women's Aid services (FRA, 2014).
  • National Research by the National Crime Council found that 1 in 7 women have experienced severe abusive behaviour of a physical, sexual or emotional nature from a partner at some times in their lives. The survey estimates that 213,000 women in Ireland have been severely abused by a partner. (Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland: Report on the National Study of Domestic Abuse, National Crime Council and ERSI, 2005).
  • In 2018, 9,971 women and 2,572 children were accommodated and/or received support from a domestic violence service. (Safe Ireland National Domestic Violence Statistics 2018)

Domestic violence - the International context

  • 25% of all violent crimes reported involve a man assaulting his wife or partner. (EU Campaign Against Domestic Violence, 2000)
  • At least 1 in 3 women, or up to one billion women, have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her. (Ending Violence against Women, L Heise, M Ellsberg, M Gottemoeller, 1999)
  • In Britain, one incidence of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute (Stanko 2000).
  • The most recent British Crime Survey (2009/2010) found that 7% of women between 16 and 59 were victims of domestic violence in the previous year.
  • One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. (WHO Report, 1997)
  • International research consistently demonstrates that a woman is more likely to be assaulted, injured, raped, or killed by a current or former partner than by any other person. Findings from nearly 80 population-bases studies indicate that between 10% and 60% of women who have ever been partnered have experienced at least one incident of physical violence from a current or former partner. [Ellsberg & Heise, 2005, WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence]
  • One in four people across the EU knows a woman among friends or in the family circle who is a victim of domestic violence. One person in five knows of someone who commits domestic violence in their circle of friends and family. [Special Eurobarometer 344, Domestic Violence Against Women Report, September 2010]

Domestic violence - a pattern, not an isolated event

  • Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other type of crime. (2000 British Crime Survey: England and Wales. Home Office 2001)
  • Irish research found that 24% of those who had experienced domestic violence, reported experiencing one form of violence, 25% had experienced two or three types of violence, 20% had experienced four to seven types of violence and 31% had experience eight or more types. ([Fiona Bradley, et al. Reported Frequency of Domestic Violence; Cross sectional survey of women attending general practice. British Medical Journal; Vol. 324: Pg. 271)
  • 47% of men who beat their wives do so at least 3 times a year. (AMA Diagnostic & Treatment Guidelines on Domestic Violence, SEC: 94-677:3M;9/94 (1994))
  • Almost three quarters of incidents of domestic violence (73%) involve repeat offending, with over one in four victims (27%) attacked three or more times. [Third Special Report: Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and "Honour"-Based Violence, House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, 31st October 2008.]

Domestic violence and female homicide

  • Since 1996, 230 women have died violently in the Republic of Ireland. 61% were killed in their own homes. (Women's Aid Femicide Watch November 2019)
  • In the resolved cases 56% of women were murdered by a partner or ex-partner. (Women's Aid Femicide Watch 2019)
  • Another 31% of women were killed by someone they knew (e.g. brother, son, neighbour, acquaintance). Thus, a total of 87% of women were killed by someone known to them. (Women's Aid Femicide Watch 2019)
  • In the UK between 2001 and 2002, 46% of female homicide victims compared with 5% of male homicide victims were killed by a current or former partner. Over 2 women a week were killed by a former or current partner during this period. (Flood-Page et al, Crime in England and Wales 2001/2002: Supplementary Volume, Home Office, 2003)
  • 40 - 70% of women who are murdered worldwide are killed by their current or former husband or boyfriend. (World Report on Violence and Health, WHO, 2002).
  • In 2007, 45% of female homicide victims in the US were murdered by a male partner or ex-partner, compared to 5% of men. [Female Victims of Violence, Bureau Of Justice Statistics Selected Findings, September 2009, USDOJ]

Domestic Violence and young women

  • In a national survey on domestic abuse, almost 60% of people who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships experienced the abuse for the first time under the age of 25.[Domestic abuse of men and women in Ireland, National Crime Council & ESRI 2005]
  • In a recent USI survey of students at third-level institutions in Ireland, 1 in 5 women surveyed experienced some form of unwanted sexual experience, with 11% experiencing unwanted sexual contact.
  • 43 women aged between 18 and 25 years old have been murdered in the Republic of Ireland since 1996. Of the resolved cases, 52% of women were murdered by a boyfriend or former partner. (Women's Aid Femcide Watch 2019).
  • 25% of teenage girls surveyed in the UK had experienced physical violence by their boyfriends and 1 in 6 girls disclosed being pressurised into sexual intercourse. [Barter et al (2009) Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships, London: NSPCC]
  • A 2008 survey of Bliss readers in the UK found that 1 in 5 girls have been physically hurt by someone they were dating. For sixteen year old girls, this goes up to 1 in 4. [Expect Respect Campaign, Women's Aid Federation, December 2008]
  • In a 2007 survey of 715 university students, 44% knew at least one woman or girl who had been hit by a boyfriend or partner. [Amnesty International (Northern Ireland) 2007 survey of the 4 University of Ulster Campuses]
  • In a recent UK study of women students' experiences of harassing, stalking, violence and sexual assault, one in seven survey respondents has experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student [National Union of Students: Hidden Marks, a study of women students' experiences of harassing, stalking, violence and sexual assault, 2010]
  • 95% of young women and 84% of young men reported knowing someone who had experienced abuse, violence and harassment ranging from being forced to have sex, to being followed, to being hit by a partner. The persons known were mainly young women. 19% of young women and 34% of young men do not think being forced to have sex is rape. [Women's Aid, Teenage Tolerance: The Hidden Lives of Young Irish People, 2001]
  • In the UK, women aged 16-19 are at the highest risk of sexual assault (7.9 %), stalking (8.5 %) and domestic abuse (12.7). Women aged 20-24 are only slightly less at risk of stalking (7.5 %) and domestic abuse (11.1 %). [DPP Keir Starmer QC, Press Release: Prosecutors and Police must protect women in the home, 12th April 2011]

Sexual violence

  • There were 526 disclosures of sexual abuse made to the Women’s Aid services in 2018, including 226 disclosures of rape. (Women’s Aid Impact Report 2018)
  • 6% of Irish women have experienced sexual violence from a current or former partner. (FRA Report 2014).
  • Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's National Helpline received 12,855 contacts (phone, email, text,social media) in 2017. 79% of callers were female. Trained volunteers at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre attended the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit with 255 victims in 2017.(Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Statistics Report 2017)
  • 548 clients commenced therapy with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in 2017. 17% of those disclosed the perpetrator was a boyfriend or partner. (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Statistics Report 2018).
  • 2,945 sexual offences were recorded by An Garda Síochána in 2017. (, 2017)
  • 20% of adult women survivors of sexual violence disclosed that their partner or ex-partner was the perpetrator of the violence. (National Rape Crisis Statistics, Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, 2015)
  • Since the introduction of legislation to criminalise rape within marriage in 1990 there has only been five successful convictions under this law. 
  • Almost one quarter (23.6%) of perpetrators of sexual violence against women were intimate partners or ex-partners. ('The Savi Report: Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland; A National Study of Irish Experiences, Beliefs and Attitudes Concerning Sexual Violence', 2002)
  • 4 out of 10 women attending General Practice who had been involved in sexual relationship with a man experience violence ('Reported frequency of domestic violence; cross sectional survey of women attending general practice', Bradley, Fiona et al. 2002)

Domestic violence - an issue of gender

  • 1 in 7 women in Ireland compared to 1 in 17 men experience severe domestic violence. Women are over twice as likely as men to have experienced severe physical abuse, seven times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse, and are more likely to experience serious injuries than men. (National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005)
  • 90% of the more systematic, persistent and injurious violence that is instrumental in the maintenance of power, is perpetrated by men. (Male Victims of Domestic Violence: A Substantive and Methodology Research Review, Michael S. Kimmel, 2001)
  • A major study of police reports and crime surveys in the UK, USA and Canada found that between 90 and 97% of perpetrators of violence in intimate relationships are men. (Dobash and Dobash, Women, Violence and Social Change, 1992)
  • In the five years ending in March 2010, more than 312,100 defendants were prosecuted for domestic violence in the UK. 93% of defendants were men and 85% of victims were women. [Violence against Women Crime Report 2009-2010, UK Crown Prosecution Service]

Domestic violence and the legal system

  • In 2015, applications to the District Court under the domestic violence legislation numbered 14,374 including 5,626 applications for Safety Orders, 5,108 applications for Protection Orders, 2,638 applications for Barring Orders and 731 applications for Interim Barring Orders.(Court Services Annual Report 2015).
  • The Garda Recorded Crime Statistics Report for 2010 states that there were 1,184 incidents of Breaching Domestic Violence Orders Offences in that year alone. (Central Statistics Office, Garda Recorded Crime Statistics 2006-2010)
  • In 2005, the Gardaí recorded 5,459 incidents of domestic abuse. (An Garda Síochána Annual Report, 2005)
  • 90% of domestic abuse offenders in 2003 were male, whilst 93% of complainants were female. Of the 1,418 arrests made in relation to domestic abuse, 1,203 were charged and 650 were convicted. (An Garda Siochana Annual Report, 2003).
  • On average a woman will be assaulted by her partner or ex-partner 35 times before reporting it to the police. (Yearnshire, S. 'Analysis of cohort', IN Bewley S, Friend J and Mezey G (Eds.) Violence Against Women. London. RCOG, 1997)
  • Only 29% of women who had experienced severe abuse had reported it to An Garda Síochána. [National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005]
  • National research carried out in 1999 found that between 1% and 6% of domestic violence offenders in Ireland receive a prison sentence. [Kelleher & O'Connor, Safety and Sanctions, Women's Aid, 1999]

Domestic violence and homelessness

  • In 2018, there were 1,138 admissions of women and 1,667 admissions of children to refuge in Ireland. (Safe Ireland Domestic Violence Services National Statistics 2018)
  • On 3,256 occasions in 2018, services were unable to accommodate women and their children because the refuge was full or there was no refuge in their area. (Safe Ireland Domestic Violence Services National Statistics 2018).
  • In 2003, 26% of women who presented as homeless to the Irish Homeless Persons Unit had become homeless as a result of domestic violence. (O'Connor & Wilson, Safe Home, Sonas Housing Association Model of Supported Transitional Housing, 2004)
  • According to the Council of Europe minimum of one refuge place (space to accommodate a woman and her children) per 100,000 people, there should be 446 family refuge places in Ireland. In reality, there are 143. [Kelly & Dubois (2008) Combating violence against women: minimum standards for support services, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, COE]
  • In a survey of homeless women in Cork, one quarter (24%) of women first became homeless because of domestic violence. This figure rose to 37% for women aged 27-44. [Good Shepherd Services & Cork Simon Community (2011) Women's Health & Homelessness in Cork]

Domestic violence and children

  • In 2017, there were 3,728 incidents of child abuse disclosed to Women's Aid. (Women's Aid Impact Report, 2018)
  • In the UK, nearly 75% of children on the 'at risk' register live in households where domestic violence occurs. (UK Department of Health, 2002)
  • Safety and Sanctions, research conducted by Women's Aid into domestic violence and the enforcement of law in Ireland in 1999, showed that children were present in the house or witnessed the violence in a significant amount of cases. (Safety & Sanctions, Women's Aid, 1999)
  • In Making the Links, 64% of women who experienced violence reported that their children had witnessed the violence. (Making the Links, Women's Aid, 1995)
  • An overview of research studies found that in between 30-66% of cases, the same perpetrator is abusing both the mother and the children. [Edleson, J., Children's witnessing of adult domestic violence, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 14. 839-870, 1999]

Domestic violence and health

  • Women who have experienced domestic violence are at an increased risk of depression and suicide attempts; physical injuries; psychosomatic disorders; unplanned pregnancies; HIV and other STIs; being killed by a partner. (World Health Organisation, World Report on Violence and Health, 2002)
  • A study conducted by the Rotunda Maternity Hospital found that in a sample of 400 pregnant women, 12.5% (1 in 8) had experienced abuse while they were pregnant. (O'Donnell S, Fitzpatrick John M, Mc Kenna PF, Abuse in Pregnancy - The Experience of Women, Nov 2000, Vol 98, No. 8)
  • 5% of women in Ireland who experienced severe abuse in an intimate relationship suffered a miscarriage as a result of the abuse. (National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005)
  • 30% of women who experience domestic violence are physically assaulted for the first time in pregnancy. [Responding to Violence against Women and Children - the role of the NHS, The report of the Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Children, March 2010]
  • A UK report citing domestic violence in pregnancy as a significant indicator of poor maternal and child health outcomes, including maternal mortality, found that 70 out of 295 women (24%) who died during pregnancy or within six weeks of giving birth had a history of domestic violence. 19 of these women were murdered. [CEMACH (2007) Saving Women's Lives: Reviewing Maternal Deaths to Make Motherhood Safer 2003 - 2005 CEMACH UK]

Leaving and post-separation abuse

  • In Making the Links, the single biggest reason why women did not leave violent partners was having nowhere to go (88%). 77% of women cited economic dependence as the main barrier to leaving. 44% of women cited fear of further violence as the main reason for not leaving. (Making the Links, Women's Aid, 1995)
  • 30% of victims who disclosed being severely abused said that the abuse continued after the relationship had ended. (National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005)
  • 76% of women who have separated from abusive partners suffer post-separation violence. Of these women, 76% were subjected to continual verbal and emotional abuse; 41% were subjected to serious threats, (either towards themselves or their children); 23% were subjected to physical violence; 6% were subjected to sexual violence. (Humphreys & Thiara, Routes to Safety, Women's Aid Federation UK, 2002)
  • 27% of women who contacted Women's Aid in 2018 disclosed that they were abused by an ex-spouse or partner. The types of abuse disclosed after the relationship has ended included: physical and sexual assaults, stalking, including being followed, harassed by phone calls, text messages or social networks, publicly humiliating the woman, and damage to her new partner, home and property. (Women's Aid Impact Report 2018)
  • In 2018, we heard 483 disclosures from mothers that their ex-partners were using access visits
    to abuse them, often in front of their children. It was disclosed on 255 occasions that children
    were being directly physically, emotionally and/ or sexually abused during access visits with their
    fathers. (Women's Aid Impact Report 2018)

Domestic Violence and minority women

  • In 2018, 19% of new women using the Women's Aid One to One Support Services were migrant women who face additional barriers when affected by domestic violence (Women's Aid Impact Report 2018).  We provided 202 Helpline support calls in another language via our Language Line interpretation service.
  • 37% of women accessing refuge identified themselves as Travellers, 6% as Black, and 2% as Asian. It is important not to draw conclusions about levels or severity of domestic violence amongst particular minority ethnic communities given some appear 'over-represented' in refuge provision. Instead it shows that minority women face additional barriers to obtaining long-term safety and lack other possible options than emergency accommodation. [SAFE Ireland (2009) Safety & Change: A national study of support needs and outcomes for women accessing refuge provision in Ireland]
  • Non-indigenous minority ethnic women only comprise approximately 5% of Ireland's population, but represented 13% of those seeking services from gender-based violence organisations. Traveller women make up 0.5% of population but represent 15% of service users. [The Women's Health Council (2009) Translating Pain Into Action: A study of Gender-based Violence and Minority Ethnic Women in Ireland.]
  • Barriers to fulfilling minority ethnic women's needs identified by gender-based violence services and minority ethnic organisations were: inadequate resources, absence of staff training, and the Habitual Residence Condition. Most GBV organisations identified language and the absence of interpretation services as barriers. [The Women's Health Council (2009)Translating Pain Into Action: A study of Gender-based Violence and Minority Ethnic Women in Ireland.]

Domestic Violence and injury

  • In 2018, there were 3,816 incidents of physical assaults disclosed to Women's Aid. Reported physical abuse included being gagged, kicked and beaten; being choked, strangled and stabbed; being slammed against the wall; being spat on, having hair pulled and being scalded; and being beaten and raped while pregnant. [Women's Aid Impact Report 2018]
  • 49% of women injured by their partner's violence required medical treatment and 10% required a hospital stay. [National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005]
  • Irish research found that of women who had experienced violent behaviour, 46% had been injured. Serious violent incidents were common, 10% of women were punched in the face; 10% punched or kicked on the body, arms, or legs; 9% choked; and 9% forced to have sex. [Bradley, F, et al. (2002) Reported Frequency of Domestic Violence; Cross sectional survey of women attending general practice. British Medical Journal; Vol. 324]
  • For women aged 15-44 worldwide, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. [WHO (1997) Violence Against Women: A Priority Health Issue]

The economic cost of domestic violence

  • The estimated economic cost of domestic violence to the Irish economy is €2.2billion a year. This is based on the Council of Europe (COE) figure that domestic violence costs each member state €555 per citizen (amounting to a total cost of €33 billion for the whole COE) annually in policing, health bills, lost productivity and court procedures. [Ahern, TD, Dermot, Minister for Justice, speaking at the International Conference on Domestic Violence, Waterford, May 2008, quoted in 'Domestic Violence costs the country €2.2bn', The Irish Examiner, 30.5.08]
  • In Northern Ireland, �180,000,000 is the estimated total annual cost of domestic violence. [Joint NIO/DHSSPS Strategy (2005) Tackling Violence at Home]
  • In Australia, it is estimated that if domestic violence against women was eliminated, potential costs savings of $207 million in the health sector and $1,801 million in production and leisure costs could be realised over time. [Cadilhac, DA et al (2009) The health and economic benefits of reducing disease factors, Deakin University]

Trafficking and sexual exploitation

  • Between January 2007 and September 2008, 102 women were identified by ten services as being trafficked into or through Ireland. These women were aware of a further 64 women who were trafficked into Ireland. None of the 102 women knew they were specifically being recruited for the sex industry. [Kelleher Associates (2009) Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: The Experiences of Migrant Women in Ireland, Dublin: Immigrant Council of Ireland.]
  • Approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders. Approximately 80% of these people are women and girls and up to 50% are minors. The majority of these women and girls are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. [Trafficking in Persons Report, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, US Department of State, June 2007]
  • The annual global profits made from human trafficking for forced commercial sexual exploitation are estimated at US$27.8billion. [Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits Working Paper, ILO, Geneva, 2005]
  • 1 in 15 men in Ireland reported that they buy sex. 25% of men who bought sex stated that they had met a woman who they felt was being forced into prostitution. [Layte et al (2006) The Irish Study of Sexual Health & Relationships, Dublin: Crisis Pregnaqncy Agency & Department of Health & Children; Escort Surveys (2006) Irish Escort Client Surveys]
  • International research which conducted interviews with 207 trafficked women revealed severe levels of violence, 95 per cent of women had been subjected to physical or sexual violence with 75 per cent physically hurt and 90 per cent reporting sexual assault. [Zimmerman et al., 2006]
  • The vast majority (89%) of women involved in prostitution want to stop. [Farley, M et al (2003) 'Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder', in Farley, M., Prostitution,Trafficking and Traumatic Stress, Haworth Press.]