- Christmas offers no respite for women affected by domestic abuse. Many women spend the festive season walking on eggshells and experience sudden flashes of violence directed at them and their children.
- Women’s Aid 24/7 National Freephone Helpline is available all throughout the Christmas period including Christmas Day and New Year.
- Women’s Aid, in partnership with Allianz Insurance are running the ‘World’s Strongest Women’ campaign which highlights the resilience, strength and courage of women who are living through domestic abuse. The campaign will run throughout the Christmas period and into January across social media, television and radio.
- Every year Women’s Aid experience a spike in calls after the festive period from many women who have worked hard to keep the peace over Christmas.
- Women’s Aid hear of ex-partners that use Christmas as a way to control and abuse women and their children. They are withholding maintenance, not honouring access arrangements and using presents for the children as a coercive bargaining tool.
Thursday 16th December: Today, Women’s Aid, a national frontline support service for women affected by domestic abuse, reveals that Christmas offers no respite for women using their services. Many women spend the festive season walking on eggshells and experience sudden flashes of violence directed at themselves and their children. The organisation’s 24hr National Freephone Helpline will be open all day, every day during Christmas including the 25th and 31st of December. The staff and volunteers on the National Helpline are preparing for the Christmas period with women calling in the run up to Christmas worried about their partner’s behaviour and financial stress. For women who have left their abusive relationships, Christmas can be used by their exes to control and abuse both them and their children. Women’s Aid hear disclosures of ex-partners withholding maintenance, not honouring access arrangements and using presents for the children as a coercive bargaining tool. Abusive men can use the holidays to threaten the well-being of children, using them as pawns to control and intimidate during what should be a time of joy.
Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, says:
“December and Christmas is a tough time for women and often the abuse they are suffering is more frequent and more severe with women disclosing that they have been assaulted, hospitalised, being degraded and called the most horrible names. Just because it is the festive season, it doesn’t mean that physical, emotional, sexual and economic abuse goes away. Women tell us that their ex-partners are threatening to withhold finances and presents for the children unless she does what he wants. Women are being manipulated and controlled by their partners.”
However, Women’s Aid do not expect a spike in calls on Christmas Day itself. Many women will work very hard to try to ‘keep the peace’ for their children. It is often the period following December 25th when the impact is known as the organisation receives an increase in calls from women. The vast majority of those who suffer domestic violence and abuse will never actually reach out to a specialist support organisation. So even these increased numbers will only reflect the tip of the iceberg of what many women will experience over the coming weeks.
Linda Smith, Manager of the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline explains:
“Many women will work very hard to manage the situation and to bring some semblance of normality for their children this Christmas. It is often in the aftermath of 25th December that we receive more calls from women who are living in fear of assault, or who are taking steps to leave the relationship and can suddenly find themselves and their children homeless and without any means or supports. We usually we would see a bit of an increase in volume of calls when the kids go back to school as women might seize the chance to reach out. This still may not feel safe, however, because partners can still be present and monitoring women’s movements and actions. We get a number of calls on a regular basis where a woman is talking and suddenly, mid-sentence the line goes or she might just say I can hear a key in the door. That happens all-year round.”
Allianz Insurance are currently running the ‘World’s Strongest Women’ campaign in partnership with Women’s Aid which was launched earlier this month to highlight the resilience, strength and courage of women who are living through domestic abuse. This Allianz funded campaign will run throughout the Christmas period across social media, television and radio. Through it Allianz are aiming to raise awareness of domestic abuse and highlight the support available to those affected by this issue. The campaign is also targeting bystanders such as family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to learn more about all the forms of domestic abuse and how they can help women affected by this. Community vigilance is vital and Women’s Aid encourage everyone to be mindful of looking for signs and reaching out to anybody they are worried about over the coming weeks.
Ms Benson concludes:
“The abuse won’t stop for Christmas but neither do we. This year we will be open 24 hours a day every day, including the 25th December and over New Year. Services are vital at this time of the year and we are committed to answering as many calls as we can, and signposting women to all the local services across Ireland if that is what they need. We need to continue to give women the opportunity to talk things through and offer them vital support and information. We are here for every woman who needs to talk about anything that is making them anxious, worried and fearful about their partner or ex. Every call is important so please just pick up the phone.”
For more information call Christina Sherlock on 087 9192457 or email email@example.com.
Notes for editors/producers:
- Please include the following Helplines and website:
- Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900
- Male National Adviceline 1800 816 588
- Written case study available at: Real Stories
- The Women’s Aid Christmas Fundraising Appeal is ongoing. Any support can be made via donate
- Women’s Aid is a national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence through its Direct Services. It runs the only free, national, domestic violence 24hr helpline (1800 341 900, 24 hours, 7 days) with specialised trained staff and volunteers, accredited by the Helplines Partnership and with a Telephone Interpretation Service covering over 200 languages for callers needing interpreting services as well as a Text Service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing women. Women’s Aid also offers a Dublin-based One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service and runs the Domestic Abuse Information and Support Service in Dolphin House Family Law Court (in partnership with Inchicore Outreach Centre.)
- 29,717 contacts were made with Women’s Aid in 2020 included: 26,400 contacts with the 24hr National Freephone Helpline (24,110 calls responded to; 1,460 Instant Message support sessions; 830 Helpline Emails responded to) and 3,317 Face-to-Face Support Services in Greater Dublin area (524 One to One sessions; 1,781 Email and telephone support; 112 Court Accompaniments; 900 Drop in visits at Dolphin House.)
- 30,841 disclosures of abuse against women and children were made including 24,893 disclosures of domestic violence including coercive control against women. (17,321 emotional abuse; 4,792 physical abuse; 1,925 economic abuse; 855 sexual abuse, including 340 disclosures of rape) and 5, 948 disclosures of child abuse in the context of domestic violence.
- Full information on Women’s Aid and Allianz campaign: https://www.allianz.ie/womensaid/