Empty promises and recycled budgets will not respond to the needs of women and children living with domestic abuse and coercive control says Safe Ireland.
Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence, presented its latest national annual statistics today which show that 10,782 women and 2,572 children received support from a domestic violence support service in 2018.
In addition, 53,627 helpline calls were answered by domestic violence support services, or an average of 147 calls for support 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. Over the year, services providing refuge were unable to provide accommodation for 3,256 requests because they were full – that’s an average of 9 requests which had to be refused every day
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. Research shows that just 8% of women who experience coercive control and domestic abuse currently look for support from a domestic violence service. Safe Ireland presented the new statistics at a meeting of its 38 services, coinciding with International Human Rights Day.
She said that the Government was continuing to starve the professional domestic 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 pointed out that the Government had not provided any additional funding for the domestic violence sector in Budget 2020. She also said that much of the budget that the Government claimed as investment was in reality a combination of prior commitments and recycled announcements.
“Recycled budget announcements and grand statements of commitment will do very little for the women and children coming to our services every day, O’Halloran 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,” she continued. “The only reason it continues to provide the expert supports 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.”
“Our services must be resourced properly so that they can respond to the levels of trauma they are working with every day, and beyond that they need to be resourced to deal with the women and children we have a duty to encourage to continue to come forward,” she said.
O’Halloran explained that during the last recession, funding to domestic violence services was significantly cut. However 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 statistics are not directly comparable with the last national statistics gathered in 2016 because the numbers of services is different. However, indications are that overall numbers coming forward are slightly up. In 2016, 10,101 women looked for support and 50,551 helpline calls were responded to.
For more information contact:
Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207
Increasing numbers and increasing complexity
· 10,782 Individual women received support from DV support services.
· 2,572 individual children received support from DV support services.
· 53,627 helpline calls were answered by DV support services.
· 3,256 unmet requests for refuge because the services were full.
· 9,971 individual women received a wide range of face-to-face supports.
· 1,138 were accommodated and receive a range of supports in refuge.
· 1,667 individual children stayed in refuge.
· 1,385 children received non-accommodation supports.
· 948 children were under the age of 5.
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. Safe Ireland carried out extensive follow up checks to maximise the accuracy of the final data set.