A record high number of domestic abuse contacts with Women’s Aid in 2022.

  • Women’s Aid’s Annual Impact Report for 2022 details 31,229 contacts with its national and regional support services last year. 
  • 16% increase in contacts compared to previous year and the highest ever received by the organisation in its almost 50 year history.
  • During these contacts, the organisation’s support workers heard 33,990 disclosures of domestic abuse against women and children.
  • Abuse included coercive control, emotional abuse, physical violence, sexual abuse, and economic control.
  • 12 women died violently in 2022 according to the organisation’s Femicide Watch.
  • Every system for domestic abuse victims/survivors is creaking at the seams and the cost of living and housing crises exacerbate the toll on women and families affected.   

Tuesday 20th June 2023: Women’s Aid, a national organisation supporting victims/survivors of domestic violence, reveals that more women than ever before are reaching out for help from its frontline services.  The Women’s Aid Annual Impact Report 2022 outlines 31,229 contacts with its National Freephone Helpline and Regional Face-to-Face services, a 16% increase on last year and the highest ever recorded.  During these contacts 33,990 disclosures of domestic abuse were made, including 5,412 reports of abuse of children.  Women’s Aid also recorded the names of 12 women who had their lives stolen in violent circumstances.  12 women whose boundless potential has been cruelly denied; 12 families and communities devastated. Already this year, 5 more women have lost their lives in this country.

The Women’s Aid report stresses that, while it is encouraging and important that more women are speaking up and reaching out for support, every system they are accessing are creaking at the seams. This includes specialist frontline services, specialist accommodation provision and the family and criminal law systems.

The cost of living and housing crises exacerbate the toll on women and families affected. The promised reforms in the government’s Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence cannot come quickly enough and must be properly resourced to avoid failure.

Sarah Benson, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, says:

“Our Annual Impact Report 2022 is a harrowing reminder of the levels of violence and abuse in homes and relationships in Ireland. While our figures are shocking, we know that they are only the tip of an enormous iceberg.

One in four women in Ireland are subjected to domestic abuse. We know that so many women suffer alone, in silence and without specialist support. Behind our figures released today are real women and families whose lives have been devastated by the scourge of male violence. Women who are trying to protect and keep themselves and their children safe in the face of unrelenting pressures”.

Ms Benson continues

“Last year, women told us that their partners or ex-partners were subjecting them to a broad and brutal pattern of abuse. Women reported assaults with weapons; constant surveillance and monitoring; relentless put downs and humiliations; the taking and sharing of intimate images online, complete control over all family finances; sexual assault, rape, and being threatened with theirs or their children’s lives.

The impacts on these women were chilling and ranged from exhaustion, isolation, and hopelessness; to being brutalised and wounded, suffering miscarriages, poverty, feeling a loss of identity and suicide ideation, hypervigilance; and homelessness.”

Ms Benson states:

“Aside from the horrific and often long-lasting impacts of domestic abuse, victims/survivors often face many other challenges. The court systems, and in particular, the District courts are under pressure, creating lengthy, protracted, and traumatising delays for women involved in legal proceedings.

We are aware that post-separation abuse is a significant issue that is often played out in family law courts. Last year alone, 26% of women in contact with us were being abused by a former partner.

The housing crisis limits options for a safe home for so many. The negative impact of inflation on family incomes, taken especially with deliberate economic abuse, exacerbate acute and frightening situations for many thousands of women and children across the country.”

Ms Benson continues:

“The government has now completed year one of the Third National Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence Strategy. For the first time ever, the government has structured its strategy around the four key components that will help truly eradicate male violence against women: prevention, protection, prosecution, and policy co-ordination.

Progress has been made towards setting up a new dedicated Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence agency, to begin improvements to the family law system, to review school curriculum to include reference to consent and healthy relationships, to introduce stalking and non-fatal strangulation legislation and a law has now passed for statutory paid domestic violence leave for employees. There have been welcome increased resources for vital specialist domestic violence services but these are coming from a baseline of historic neglect.

This is all excellent progress but still much to be done to ensure correct implementation and enforcement of these measures. It will require focus, co-ordination and – crucially – continued investment from Government to see the ambitions of the Strategy realised.”

Ms Benson adds:

“The heightened public awareness on domestic abuse over the last number of years is very welcome. It means that, bit by bit, we are chipping away at the silence that imprisons women and children in very difficult situations. However, the more we talk about domestic abuse the more victims and survivors will come forward. Can we confidently say that when they do come forward, they will get all the support and protection they need?”

Ms Benson concludes:

“2022 was a year of horrific violence against women, in their homes and on our streets with 12 women’s lives ended by violence. The recent Independent study on Familicide and Domestic Violence Deaths provides a ground-breaking roadmap to help prevent future domestic violence deaths. Rapid implementation of legislative change is needed to facilitate real and meaningful actions to support bereaved families and to establish a system of domestic violence death reviews, such as are in place in other jurisdictions including Northern Ireland.

These changes require a whole of Government approach and should not be dispersed across different departments without a coordinated plan. Government must put in place a dedicated and focused vehicle for implementation of the many recommendations in this foundational document – including required legislation – to ensure prompt and successful outcomes.

We must get this right to honour the many lives that have been lost in such circumstances, and to honour their loved ones left behind. We must give ourselves the tools to learn from the past so we can do better in the future to prevent such deaths.”


Support Information


For further information contact Christina Sherlock on 087 919 2457 or by email to christina.sherlock@womensaid.ie.

Launch details:

Photo call: Media doorstep and photocall, outside (weather pending) at 10.40am at Wood Quay Venue.

When: Tuesday 20th June 2022, 11:00 am – 1:30pm.

Where: Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council, Civic Offices, Wood Quay Dublin 8. Click here for details.


  • Sarah Benson, CEO, Women’s Aid.
  • Jason Poole, Advocate and Campaigner on the issue of violence against women and men.
  • Drew Harris, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris of An Garda Síochána.
  • Dr. Stephanie Holt, Head of School, School of Social Work & Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin.
  • Hannah Wayte, Employer Engagement Project Lead Trainer, Women’s Aid.
  • Helen McEntee, T.D., Minister for Justice (by video).

This event will be chaired by Ailbhe Smyth, chairperson of Women’s Aid.

Notes for editors and producers:

  • The Women’s Aid Annual Impact Report 2022 is available to download here.
  • 31,229 contacts with Women’s Aid in 2022 included: 23,566 contacts with the 24hr National Freephone Helpline (20,905 calls responded to; 1,808 Instant Message support sessions; 853 Helpline Emails responded to). It also included, the Outreach team engagement of 1,399 support visit contacts with 389 women in total during 2022, an 8% increase on 2021 and there were 1,860 support calls/texts with women.
  • 33,990 disclosures of abuse against women and children were made including 28,578 disclosures of domestic violence including coercive control against women. (20,851 emotional abuse; 4,509 physical abuse; 2,290 economic abuse; 928 sexual abuse) and 5,412 disclosures of child abuse in the context of domestic violence. 
  • Perpetrator breakdown: 84% in contact with Women’s Aid were abused by a current or former male partner; 58% of women were abuse by a current partner; 26% ex-male partner; 10% of women were abused by a man who was not an intimate partner or ex-partner; 6% of women disclosed abuse by a female abuser. 
  • 12 women died violently in 2022 according to the organisation’s Femicide Watch
  • There were 330,727 visits to www.womensaid.ie  and 29,758 visits to toointoyou.ie 
  • At least 1 in 4 women in Ireland are subjected to some form of abuse from a current or former partner. (EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Violence against women: An EU-wide survey, 2014).