Our History




Women's Aid formed - Nuala Fennell affected by UK programme she sees about domestic violence in which many of the women speaking are from Ireland, who had nowhere to go. She sends a letter to the Irish Times highlighting the problem and asking if anyone wants to join with her to do something about it. Receives a huge response.


Fast is held by Women's Aid (GPO) to highlight the lack of services for women in Ireland


First legislation of domestic violence introduced. Women can avail of barring orders for the first time. They last for 3 months, but no implementation


Fire in refuge on Harcourt street causing an accommodation crisis for Women's Aid.


Improvement in domestic violence legislation. Protection orders introduced and barring orders increased from 3 to 12 months.


Rathmines Refuge is opened - first custom built refuge in Ireland


Arts Project started in Rathmines Refuge - way of working on the issues which violence brings up for women and children through art.


Hospital Project - research in St. James's hospital into the identification and responses to women who have been abused. Research shows that where staff are trained on how to respond to domestic violence, more women are opening up and disclosing real reason for injuries.


Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline is set up. The Helpline provides information and support to women who are experiencing physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse in their own homes.


Women's Aid One to One Support and Court Accompaniment Services are set up. The support service is a one-to-one service between the woman and a Women's Aid worker. It provides more in-depth information and a closer look at the woman's options.


The Court accompaniment service is provided to women on request. The Women's Aid workers attend court with the woman to provide support on the day and help the woman come to terms with the court's decision.


Roddy Doyle's The Family is broadcast on RTE- the number of calls to the Helpline increase hugely.


Women's Aid homilies on domestic violence in Churches


Making the Links Research is published - first research into prevalence of domestic violence in Ireland - shows that almost 1 in 5 (18%) Irish women who have been in an intimate relationship have experienced violence.


Zero Tolerance Campaign - Flowers Chocolates and Multiple Bruising public awareness campaign.


Beijing - Irish woman (from Women's Aid) speaks at UN Conference about her experience of violence in Ireland.


Schools Work begins -working with transition year students about what they expect of relationships, their understanding of what is and what is not violence in relationships.


Women's Aid begin training Garda recruits on responding to domestic violence.


First Women's Aid fundraising cycle.


Bus Project - Bus which travelled to various areas in Ireland, highlighting issue of violence against women - from this project a number of support services were set up outside Dublin, including Women's Aid, Dundalk.


Forum Theatre - interactive theatre which explores the obstacles to women leaving a violent relationship


Sonas is opened -medium term housing for women made homeless as a result of domestic violence - 25 houses in a northside suburb, with support workers.


Now project - capacity building for women who have experienced violence, after which most of the participants went onto further education or entered the workforce.


Domestic Violence Act passed - expanded the law to include abuse by people who were not spouses - cohabitees, parents, children


16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women T-shirt protest highlights domestic violence in Ireland.


Sceal Mna set up - Art group for women who have left abusive relationships


WaWa charity shops supporting Women's Aid open.


Training and Development team set up to train statutory and non-statutory groups who respond to domestic violence in their work.


Violence at Home - Support at Work - Joint Trade union campaign.


Publication of Government Taskforce report on Violence against women


Community Development Support Programme - Women's Aid provide support to Community Development projects who are responding to violence


Starting Over Group - A support group for women who have left abusive relationships.


Extension of Helpline hours to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.


16 Days of Action protest outside the Dáil


Outreach - One to one support visits which take place in the community.


Safety and Sanctions published by Women's Aid - research into the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act.


Koffee for Kosovo - fundraiser coffee morning hosted by Women's Aid in aid of the women victims of rape as a weapon of war in Kosovo.


Violence as a Health Issue - Launch of training manual on working with health professionals in the Accident and Emergency hospitals on responding to women experiencing violence.


16 Days of Action commemorates the 50 women who have been murdered in Ireland since 1996.


Personal Development through Arts for women and children expanded to more Dublin refuges.


Women's Aid celebrates 25 year anniversary.


Beijing Plus 5 Review


'Dining out to Make a Difference' Fundraising Campaign.


Teenage Tolerance: The Hidden Lives of Young Irish People research on young people's experiences and attitudes to relationships and domestic violence shows an overwhelming prevalence of violence and harassment in the lives of young people, mainly young women.


Violence against Women: An Issue of Gender report published in conjunction with other prominent violence against women groups and academics, in response to misinformation in the media that violence was a gender-neutral issue.


The Women's Aid Butterfly Project for women attempts to tackle the aftermath of leaving a violent relationship.


Women's Aid launched its election strategy Respond, Reform, Research, Resource: A Strategy to Tackle Violence Against Women, turning domestic violence into a real general election issue.


Casualties of Violence Conference organised by Women's Aid explores domestic violence as an issue of health.


Women's Aid documents our model of work in Vision, Action, Change: Feminist Principles and Practice of working on Violence against Women. The experience and voices of women directly subjected to male violence underpinned the model.


Women's Aid and the National Disability Authority publish guidelines entitled Responding to Violence Against Women with Disabilities, based on the dialogue between disability advocacy groups and organisations working to address violence against women.


Practice to Policy Leadership Course delivers four modules on feminism and leadership to women from violence against women organisations and community projects. The course is held again in 2004.


Child Custody & Access in the Context of Domestic Violence: Women's Experiences and the Response of the Legal System was compiled by Women's Aid to highlight the experiences of women as reported to our support services regarding their abusive partner's continued control of them via access to children and their interaction with the courts.


Women's Aid National Awareness Poster Campaign 'Some men break more than their girlfriends' hearts-Domestic violence affects 1 in 5 Irish women'.


The Doll's House - Ireland's first TV Domestic Violence Public Awareness Campaign advertising the Women's Aid Helpline, raising calls by 1,000 during the campaign.


Women's Aid attends Ireland's examination under the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as part of the Irish NGO delegation.


Women's Aid Training & Development team begin providing training on the implementation of the Community Development Code of Practice on Domestic Violence to Community Development Projects and Family Resource Centres all over Ireland.


Arts Programme commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Rathmines Refuge with a mosaic installation themed 'Seasons of Change' at a ceremony attended by President Mary McAleese.


Women's Aid, AkiDwA and the Immigrant Council of Ireland hold a conference addressing the needs of Black and Ethnic Minority Women affected by domestic violence.


Director Margaret Martin and Women's Aid receive the James Larkin 'Thirst for Justice' Award from the Labour Party, which recognises outstanding work on social justice issues, particularly those which bridge the gap between 'what is and what ought to be' in Irish Society.


Women's Aid opens a new services outreach programme in Ballymun.


Protection, Provision, Prevention: A Manifesto to End Domestic Violence is produced by Women's Aid, disseminated nationally and launched in the national media ahead of the General Election 2007.


Women's Aid begins an annual donation of materials documenting our work to the National Archives.


Women's Aid launches the new Domestic Violence and Mental Health Training Module.


The Wa Wa shop in Ranelagh relocates to Aungier Street, Dublin 2.


Women's Aid attends the Women against Violence in Europe (WAVE) conference in Slovakia.


16 Days of Action 'Home Truths: Think Women's Human Rights - Think Home' Campaign marks the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Women's Aid partners with beauty company Avon as part of its Speak Out against Domestic Violence Campaign.


"Domestic Violence, State Accountability and Family Law: Examples from the United States": hosted by Women's Aid and chaired by Senator Ivana Bacik, this seminar brought leading US-based legal experts to Ireland to discuss best practice and successful strategies from the United States.


Women's Aid pays tribute to Nuala Fennell, who passed away at the age of 73. Ms Fennell was a founder member and the first Chairperson of Women's Aid.


Women's Aid runs the national 'Support a Friend Phone Charm' public awareness campaign as part of the 16 Days of Action 'Breaking the silence around domestic violence' campaign.


Women's Aid calls for improved legal protection for women not covered by current domestic violence legislation, under the proposed Civil Partnership Bill and the Domestic Violence Act, 1996.


Women's Aid Training and Development team begins trainings on Domestic Violence & Pregnancy for maternity hospital staff and introduces a new module for psychotherapists.


The updated Women's Aid website is launched with support from the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Campaign.


Women's Aid says farewell to the East Coast Cycle Challenge from Dublin to Arklow, with many thanks to all our participating cyclists.Women's Aid coordinates the first One in Five Women National Balloon Action during the 16 Days of Action.


Women's Aid continues to call for improved legal protection for women not covered by current domestic violence legislation, under the proposed Civil Partnership Bill and the Domestic Violence Act, 1996.


Women's Aid coordinates the first One in Five Women National Balloon Action during the 16 Days of Action.


VAW 365 Poster Exhibition is presented by Women's Aid during the 16 Days of Action.


Women's Aid runs the ground-breaking 2in2u National Public Awareness Campaign, raising awareness of violence in dating relationships through radio and online adverts, and with a dedicated website with a relationship health check at www.2in2u.ie


Our website, www.womensaid.ie, support and information pages into eight languages: French, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Polish, and Irish.


The Language Line translation service is launched on our National Freephone Helpline.


Long fought for amendments are made to the Domestic Violence Act, 1996 which allow partners with a child in common and who have lived together to access legal protection from domestic violence through Safety Orders, without the previous cohabitation requirements.


Director Margaret Martin attends the World Conference of Women's Shelters in Washington, DC.


As a member of the Coalition on Domestic Violence, Women's Aid, calls for changes in the law to give migrant women suffering from domestic abuse the chance to leave their partner without endangering their right to stay in the country. The coalition holds public information sessions, conferences, and testifies before the Oireachtas Justice Committee throughout the year. The coalition welcomes some progress in this regard, with the publishing of guidelines on this issue on the INIS website.


In the media, Women's Aid highlights domestic violence as the most common context in which child abuse occurs. The release of our 2011 Annual Statistics shows a 25% increase in disclosures of direct child abuse in homes where the mother is experiencing domestic violence.


Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, T.D., and the Honourable Justice Susan Denham, Chief Justice and Chairperson of the Courts Service Board, launch the pilot project evaluation report for the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service on June 25th.


Women's Aid marks the 20th year of our National Freephone Helpline by launching the new 'Don't Be Afraid' national public awareness advertising campaign.


As part of the Turn off the Red Light Coalition, Women's Aid calls for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex.


During the One in Five Women 16 Days of Action campaign, Women's Aid launches an interactive online campaign video, highlighting the issue of emotional abuse.


Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline is accredited by The Helplines Association to its Quality Standard.


As part of the Avon Speak Out against Domestic Violence Programme, Women’s Aid offers information sessions to groups across Ireland working to increase awareness of domestic violence among women at a grassroots level.


Women’s Aid joins Benefit Cosmestics’ Uni Tour, providing information on healthy dating relationships on college campuses across Ireland, as part of 2in2u Public Awareness Campaign.


The release of our 2012 Annual Report shows 55% increase from 2011 in disclosures of emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children.


Women’s Aid launches new training module on Best Practice in Women and Child Protection in the context of domestic violence and specialised training for childcare workers and begins training local employment services and initiatives on the impact of domestic violence on employment.


Women’s Aid makes submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. Recommendations include further extension of eligibility under the Domestic Violence Act, measures to address child custody/access in the context of domestic violence and anti-stalking legislation.


In February, Women’s Aid re-launches the 2in2u National Public Awareness Campaign to highlight the problem of violence against young women in dating relationships.


Women’s Aid comes together with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in May to launch the joint campaign ‘Not Happily Ever After’. Through this campaign, the two National Helpline agencies highlight the crime of sexual violence within relationships.


In August, Women’s Aid launches the joint initiative ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ with Concern, supported by rugby star Rob Kearney.


Women’s Aid produces videos providing information from our website in Irish Sign Language for women who are deaf or hard of hearing.


In September, we marked our anniversary of 40 years of supporting women affected by domestic abuse. We launch our 2013 annual report and issue a call for the Government to provide 24/7 access to legal protection for women, and to sign up to the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women.


On the 20th of November, Women’s Aid holds a minute’s silence outside Dáil Eireann in memory of the 78 women who have been murdered by a current or former boyfriend, partner or husband since 1996.


On International Day Opposing Violence Against Women, Women’s Aid co-ordinates a Balloon Release with over 130 groups all over Ireland, in solidarity with the one in five women who experience domestic abuse.


 Women’s Aid started our Testimonies project which help to bring women’s voices to the fore in order to build better awareness and understanding of the complexities of domestic violence.  As part of this project, we launched a new ‘Women’s Voices’ awareness raising video.

On 25th November, the first Women’s Aid UN Day Opposing Violence against Women Seminar takes place in Dublin and examines the issue of Digital Abuse and Online Safety and the links with domestic violence.


The Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline became a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service and answered 15,952 calls.  The 24/7 service was officially launched by Minister Katherine Zappone, T.D.

Facebook, in partnership with Women’s Aid, launch a safety guide for women, titled ‘A Guide to Staying Safe on Facebook’.

Women's Aid was chosen as the charity to benefit from the PeterMarkathon.in October which raised funds for the extension of the 24hr National Freephone Helpline.

On 25th November, The Behind Closed Doors report was published outlining the findings from the Women’s Aid Femicide Monitoring Project 1996-2016.  The report was launched at a seminar exploring the links between domestic violence and the killing of women.

Women’s Aid welcomed the publication of the Law Reform Commission’s Report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety. The reports’ wide ranging proposals, many based on recommendations made by Women’s aid, to tackle digital abuse within intimate relationships are a pivotal step in bringing Ireland’s laws into the 21st century.


The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides support and information to callers experiencing abuse from intimate partners.

The Women's Aid Helpline is the only free, national, domestic violence helpline with specialised trained staff, fully accredited by The Helplines Association and with a Telephone Interpretation Service facility covering 170 languages for callers needing interpreting services.

Women's Aid also offers a Dublin-based One to One Support Service. Our Support Services Team provide more in-depth one to one information and support, Monday to Friday, in six locations throughout Dublin

The Support Services Team also offer a Court Accompaniment Service, which provides advocacy and support specific to the particular needs of women seeking legal redress regarding violence by a current or former husband or partner.

Women's Aid operates the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service, in partnership with the Dublin 12 Domestic Violence Service and Inchicore Outreach Centre in the Dublin District Family Law Court in Dolphin House.

Women's Aid also refers women to local domestic violence refuges and support services around the country.

In addition to our Direct Services, Women's Aid acts for justice and social change by engaging in policyrepresentation and communications and campaigns activity at a national level. Women's Aid also provides extensive information and statistics on domestic violence in print and online.

We also provide specialised training on responding to domestic violence.

It is our sincere hope that by increasing understanding and awareness of domestic violence we will improve societal responses to, and increase protection for, women and children affected by abuse.