Belfast Telegraph

Domestic violence victims turned away 3,000 times in 2018, says charity

More than 10,000 women and 2,500 children received help from a domestic violence support service in 2018.

Research shows 8% of women who experience coercive control and domestic abuse currently look for support from a domestic violence service (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Research shows 8% of women who experience coercive control and domestic abuse currently look for support from a domestic violence service (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

Services helping victims of domestic violence were unable to meet more than 3,000 requests for safe accommodation last year, as the Government continues to starve funding to support services, a charity has said.

Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence, has presented its latest national annual statistics.

Figures from the charity show that on 3,256 occasions last year, victims of domestic violence had to be turned away as services were full – an average of nine requests per day.

More than 10,000 women and 2,500 children received help from a domestic violence support service in 2018, figures show.

In addition, 53,627 helpline calls were answered by domestic violence support services, or an average of 147 calls every day in 2018.

This includes 19,000 calls to the national helpline, operated by Women’s Aid with over 34,000 being responded to by services throughout the country.

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that while the numbers of women and children looking for safety continued to be shocking, dealing with the unreported prevalence of domestic abuse and coercive control was an enormous concern.

Ms O’Halloran said research shows 8% of women who experience coercive control and domestic abuse currently look for support from a domestic violence service.

She said that the Government was continuing to starve the professional support services of the funding and resources they need to deal with the numbers and the trauma of the experiences of the women and children coming forward.

She said the Government had not provided any additional funding for the domestic violence sector in Budget 2020.

“Recycled Budget announcements and grand statements of commitment will do very little for the women and children coming to our services every day,” she said.

“They will do even less for the women and children who have not come forward yet and who continue to live in homes of terror.

“We have a network of domestic violence support services that is fragile and creaking.

“The only reason it continues to provide the expert support it does is because it is staffed by dedicated and extraordinary professionals who are hard-wired to help. But hard-wired to help is no longer enough when we are dealing with an epidemic of domestic abuse and coercive control.”

Ms O’Halloran said during the last recession, funding to domestic violence services was significantly cut but demand for services and the need for responses to more complex cases continued to increase.

“The infrastructure has never fully recovered and has never been properly resourced to recover from eight years of austerity,” she said, adding that many professionals within the services were now also struggling to maintain and recruit staff because of the low pay parity within the sector.

The national annual statistics were recorded by Safe Ireland through data collection from 36 frontline specialist support services in Ireland for women and their children who are or have experienced domestic abuse and coercive control.

PA

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