Belfast Telegraph

No refuge plight of battered women

The number of desperate victims of domestic violence refused emergency accommodation jumped by more than a third last year.

Safe Ireland said women and children looking for safety were turned away 3,236 times in 2010, up 38%, because refuges were either full or unavailable in their area.

More than 100 calls a day - 38,629 in total - were also made to helplines during the year.

Sharon O'Halloran, director of Safe Ireland, which represents 39 frontline domestic violence services, said the real pressure point was the number of times women could not be accommodated immediately.

"These women and their children are the tragic fallout of Ireland's abject and consistent failure to meet European minimum requirements for refuge," she said.

"When a woman leaves her house with her children, often in the middle of the night, she should expect to be accommodated safely behind the first door she knocks on. While accommodation is found for all women who come to a refuge, if it is not immediately available, it only prolongs the stress and anxiety of the situation."

Ms O'Halloran said Ireland had just one third of the refuge capacity recommended by the Council of Europe.

With budget cutbacks, essential new refuges are not opening and existing refuges are finding it more difficult to maintain their services, she added.

"Refuge accommodation is not just about getting a roof over your head," Ms O'Halloran continued.

"Our refuge and support services are staffed by professionals who have over 30 years experience in providing for the physical, mental and emotional needs of women and children leaving abuse."

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