- Launch of Women’s Annual Impact Report 2021 details how the second year of the Covid-19 emergency exacerbated already difficult situations for domestic violence victims.
- Women in contact with Women’s Aid frontline services in 2021 reported that they were experiencing deeper levels of distress, fear and isolation.
- There were 26,906 contacts with the 24hr National Freephone Helpline, National Instant Message Support service and the Women’s Aid Face-to-Face services in Dublin last year.
- Women’s Aid support workers heard 33,831 disclosures of domestic violence including coercive control. This included 28,096 disclosures of abuse against women and 5,735 disclosures of child abuse in the context of domestic violence.
- Women’s Aid says that National Helpline contacts with women were longer with 3,863 hours of talk time delivered in 2021 (+8%).
- Women’s Aid says that all systems responsible for protecting victims/survivors of domestic violence are under extreme pressure and that the government needs to act urgently to increase the safety of vulnerable women and children.
- ‘Violence against women is a men’s issue’ – Women’s Aid calls for more men to become allies in creating zero tolerance of all forms of male violence women, including domestic abuse.
Tuesday, 14th June 2022: Today, Women’s Aid, a leading national frontline domestic violence organisation, releases its Annual Impact Report for 2021. The report details the 26,906 contacts made with Women’s Aid frontline services including the 24hr National Freephone Helpline, National Instant Message Support Service and its Dublin-based Face-to-Face support services last year. During these contacts, 28,096 disclosures of domestic abuse against women were made. Support workers also heard 5,735 disclosures of abuse against children (33,831 disclosures in total). The report provides an insight into the staggering levels and brutal forms of abuse experienced by thousands of women and children in homes and relationships across Ireland.
Sarah Benson, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, says:
“For a second year, the Covid-19 emergency had a huge impact on victims of domestic violence. 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 safe themselves and their children in the face of unrelenting pressures. Last year, women told us that their partners or ex-partners were subjecting them to a broad and brutal pattern of abuse.”
Ms Benson continues:
“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.”
The National 24hr Freephone Helpline team responded to 21,126 contacts providing an unprecedented 3,863 hours of direct support (an overall increase of 8% on 2021).
Ms Benson explains why this is significant:
“Our contacts were considerably longer on average, and women’s needs were often more difficult. We experienced more calls in the quietest and darkest hours of the night. Women were reaching out for support, understanding, and the space to make sense of what their partners or ex-partners were doing to them. Indeed, contacts to all our services in 2021 revealed ever more complex cases, and deep levels of distress, fear, and isolation, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The organisation says that all systems responsible for protecting victims of domestic violence are under extreme pressure and that the government needs to act urgently to increase the safety of vulnerable women and children.
Ms Benson explains:
“Home remains the most dangerous place for women and their children. That stark fact became even more visible during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic did not cause domestic abuse, but the reality is that it exacerbated situations for those already at risk of, or already in, abusive relationships. Systems slowed and courts became further backlogged. Isolation from family and friends became more acute because of public health measures. Our housing crisis worsened. In some ways, the urgent and necessary efforts to manage Covid-19 compromised the country’s response to domestic abuse.”
Ms Benson continues:
“The government must take urgent action now. Family and criminal law systems are creaking at the seams, creating lengthy, protracted, and traumatising delays for women navigating both criminal and civil law systems. The housing crisis and dearth of appropriate specialist accommodation provision for survivors of abuse, limits options for a safe home for many. The negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on family incomes, taken especially with deliberate economic abuse, exacerbate acute and frightening situations for many thousands of women and children across the country.”
The government has now completed the Third National Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence Strategy. The final publication, together with an implementation plan, is due in the coming days.
Ms Benson outlines:
“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. Work is already underway to improve the family law system, improve survivors experience of the criminal system, to introduce stalking and strangulation legislation and to enact legislation for a statutory paid domestic violence leave for employees. This is all excellent progress but all still in planning or process. It will require focus, co-ordination and – crucially – investment from Government to see the ambitions of an excellent plan realised.”
Ailbhe Smyth, Chair of Women’s Aid adds:
“Today, there is an increased recognition in Irish society that domestic abuse and all forms of male violence against women are not women’s issues, but an issue for men. Recent and terrible events have again highlighted persistent issues with misogyny and structural gender inequality, which are both cause and consequence of male violence against women. In 2021, the Women’s Aid Femicide report recorded another 7 women who died in violent circumstances in this country. I call on more men to become allies in creating zero tolerance of all forms of violence women, including domestic abuse. Now is the time to be brave and ambitious. The public conversation must continue to focus on how we, women and our male allies, can work together and create positive and lasting change for everyone in Irish society.”
Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 7 days a week. Instant Message Support Service www.womensaid.ie, 7 days a week at fixed times. More information www.womensaid.ie
Photocall: 10am, Tuesday 14th June at Women’s Aid, 5 Wilton Place, Dublin 2. Available for interview and photos – Sarah Benson CEO of Women’s Aid and Linda Smith, Manager of the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline.
Launch webinar information:
- When: Tuesday 14th June 2022 11am to 12.30pm
- Register: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_L3SfDfLpRq2x47KtYfrKaA
- Speakers: Ailbhe Smyth will chair the event and confirmed speakers include Helen McEntee, TD, Minister for Justice, Sarah Benson, CEO, Women’s Aid, Professor Louise Crowley, University College Cork and Gillian Dennehy, Maternity Project Co-Ordinator, Women’s Aid.
Contact for more information: Christina Sherlock, email@example.com or 0879192457.
Notes for Producers/Researchers:
- Download the Women’s Aid Annual Impact Report 2021 here.
- 26,906 contacts with Women’s Aid in 2021 included: 21,126 contacts with the 24hr National Freephone Helpline (18,911 calls responded to; 1,420 Instant Message support sessions; 795 Helpline Emails responded to). It also included 5,780 Face-to-Face Support Services in Greater Dublin area (994 One-to-One sessions; 2,098 Email and telephone support; 140 Court Accompaniments; 905 Drop-in visits at Dolphin House and 1,643 High-Risk support session, emails and calls.)
- 33,831 disclosures of abuse against women and children were made including 28,096 disclosures of domestic violence including coercive control against women. (19,902 emotional abuse; 4,707 physical abuse; 1,104 economic abuse; 2,383 sexual abuse, including 411 disclosures of rape) and 5,735 disclosures of child abuse in the context of domestic violence.
- Perpetrator breakdown: 57% current male perpetrator; 25% ex-male partner; 11% other male; 7% female abuser.
- 96% of contacts with the National Helpline were from women. 4% were from men.
- There were 213,206 visits to www.womensaid.ie and 17,122 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).