Day 13: Our National Freephone Helpline offers support in over 170 languages.

Posted on December 07, 2015 at 10:16 AM

Day 13

The women we support are diverse and come from all walks of life. Domestic violence can affect any woman, at any age and from any background.  Today we look at the additional barriers women from Migrant communities face.

323 callers to the National Freephone Helpline in 2014 identified that they were Migrant women and 32% of the new women we saw in 2014 in our One to One Service were migrant women.

Just over half were from other EU member states while 46% were from non EU countries.

The additional barriers faced by migrant women affected by domestic violence include:

  • the impact of the lack of independent residency status.
  • ineligibility for social protection.
  • limited access to emergency accommodation.

Women may also face pressures and have a reduced number of options because of their cultural or religious backgrounds. For migrant women with particularly complicated cases Women’s Aid works alongside migrant rights organisations such as the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council. Women’s Aid is also an active member of a domestic violence migrant women’s rights coalition with representatives from national domestic violence and migrant services looking to improve policies for migrant women experiencing domestic violence.

In 2014 we continued our National Freephone Helpline Telephone Interpretation Service which allows us to support women in over 170 languages. In 2014, 78 calls were facilitated in 15 languages. Some of these calls were initiated by professionals (Gardaí, Refuge service and GPs) in their quest to support the woman presenting to them.

The Women’s Aid Telephone Interpretation Service is providing an essential service to women, whose first language is not English and who are experiencing domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence very often experience isolation from family, friends and the community and having limited access/support from services in the local community, because of the language barrier, this can further isolate women.

Using the Interpreter service via the Helpline is a very simple process and usually takes no more than a couple of minutes before we engage an interpreter, for the requested language, to facilitate a conversation between the caller and the Helpline support worker. We aim to continue, with the support of our funders and our committed staff and volunteer team, to increase the accessibility of our service.

73% of callers who used the Telephone Interpretation Service spoke a range of EU languages including Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese and Romanian. Polish speakers were the biggest group but are also the largest minority in the country at 2.7% of the population. The non-EU languages included Arabic, Mandarin and Russian.

Maria*, who had married an Irish man several months previously and come to Ireland knowing no-one and speaking no English, disclosed experiencing serious abuse. She felt scared for her life and alone. On calling the Women's Aid Helpline, she was connected with a translator and was immediately able to speak with a support worker who understood her situation and had information on appropriate services to support her. After a few calls to our service she went on to access refuge accommodation where she found safety and support.

*not her real name.

Online information in 8 languages

Research shows that minority ethnic women experiencing domestic violence face additional barriers to seeking help and living lives free of violence. These barriers include the lack of accessible information and support services in different languages.

Therefore, with support from the HSE Social Inclusion Unit, key sections of the Women's Aid are translated into eight different languages - ArabicChineseFrenchPolishRomanian,RussianSpanish, and Irish. Leaflets about Women's Aid services and domestic violence are also distributed in the most of the same languages.

The translated information available online includes sections on types of abuse, warning signs of an abusive relationship, information on safety planning and detailed information about Women's Aid services.

How to access the Telephone Interpretation Service:

If English is not your first language, we can help you.

The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline can offer support women in over 170 languages through our Telephone Interpretation Service.

If you would like to speak to us call the Helpline on 1800 341 900 (open 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week):

  • Tell us what language you speak.
  • We will ask you to hold. This process takes a few minutes. Please wait until we comes back to you.
  • We will connect you with an interpreter.
  • The interpreter will then help you to speak to us in your own language.

This service is free and confidential.

For more information visit

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