Rebooting the Domestic Violence Revolution

On July 12th 2018, Safe Ireland hosted an event to mark the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act 2018 and to launch Resolve, our new Legal Information and Advocacy Service. 

Criminalising coercive control in the home will help keep women alive but it has to be implemented

Criminalising coercive control represents a coming of age in Ireland’s understanding of domestic violence but it has to be implemented if it is to save lives, a Safe Ireland Seminar looking at new responses for a safer Ireland heard today.

 

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that the creation of the criminal offence of coercive control in the new Domestic Violence Act 2018 is transformative and will help change culture in Ireland.

 

She welcomed the Government’s commitment to prioritising the commencement of the Act into law.  However, she said that it had to be followed up by three types of further convictions: “Firstly, convictions in courtrooms, crucially, conviction by the State to resource supports and training, and finally, conviction by each one of us to know what role we can play to respond effectively.”

 

She warned that domestic violence is too often escaping the attention of the community and of agencies, including those in social care and policing, because coercive control has not been taken seriously or has been minimised.

 

“For too long we have been having too small a conversation about too big a problem,” she said.  “If you wait for a severe injury before you identify domestic violence, then you are going to miss 98 per cent of cases. Coercive control forces us to focus not only on incidents of physical violence but on the cumulative patterns of abuse and the denial of human rights that is at the core of domestic violence.”

 

Safe Ireland also called on the Government to introduce domestic homicide reviews, to support the implementation of the new Domestic Violence Act, to increase understanding of how we can prevent fatalities. In the UK, coercive control has been recognised as a serious offence since 2015, where research has shown that coercive control was seen in 92% of domestic killings.

 

In addition, it launched Resolve – its new dedicated legal information and advocacy service to support women’s access to justice and the legal remedies soon to be open to them under the new Act.  Safe Ireland noted particularly that more research is needed to understand the responses needed for men experiencing violence in relationships.

 

O’Halloran said that Ireland has to take on the last “sacred” institution in Ireland – the home –  if it was serious about creating a society that is safe and equal for all.

 

“For decades, we have side-stepped, dodged and ducked taking on the last institution in Irish society – the home,” she said.  “Until we commit to this fully, we will not take on domestic violence.  We will continue to focus on the fabrication of danger to women from outside the home, rather than accepting that the real danger is from within.”

 

“This fabrication means that 79% of women do not report the tyrannies they are living in. It means that services are only working with eight to 12 percent of women and children experiencing domestic violence, unable to meet all their needs because they are not resourced to do so.”

 

Coercive control is a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other psychological or emotional abuse that is used to control and limit the freedom of an intimate partner or a family member.

 

In Ireland, one in three (31% or over 470,000) Irish women have experienced some form of psychological violence by a partner, according to a major EU wide study in 2014.  Every year, over 10,000 women and 3,600 children seek support and safety from abusive men.

 

The Seminar also looked at other criminal and civil law considerations and implications within the new DV Act, including the introduction of statutory guidance for judges in making DVA orders and the recognition that violence within intimate relationships is an aggravating factor in sentencing.

 

For more information contact:

Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Safe World Summit Early Bird Tickets

Early Bird tickets for the Safe World Summit are now on sale. Priced at €295, these tickets will be on sale until July 31st or until they are sold out.

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Safe Ireland Urges Yes Vote on May 25th

Choice at home, close to local specialist dv services is the only safe option for women living in abusive relationships.

Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence, today said that a yes vote this Friday is the only way to ensure that women living with domestic violence can access safe services when pregnancy is used as a tool of control and abuse.

The organisation which represents 40 domestic violence services across the country, said it was concerned that groups advocating a no vote were incorrectly, and without any evidence, saying that access to abortion in Ireland would put more women at risk in abusive relationships.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, said Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland.

“The eighth amendment is inherently unsafe and presents a huge risk for women living with domestic violence,” she said. “The only way to make Ireland a safer country for women is to ensure that there is access to safe, controlled and wrap-around abortion services and supports here at home.”

“If a woman is being forced to have an abortion by a controlling or abusive partner it is going to be far safer for her to have interaction with abortion services here in Ireland rather than travelling overseas,” she continued. “Doctors and nurses here, who may suspect or are told about coercion through pregnancy, can get in touch with specialist domestic violence services here if that is what the patient wants. This essential wrap-around approach is not going to happen if a woman has to go to another jurisdiction, miles from her family, miles from her community and miles from the services that can help her here.”

O’Halloran also said that it was critical to remember that the majority of rape in Ireland occurs within the home, often within violent intimate relationships. She said that currently, if a woman living under coercion and abuse becomes pregnant through rape or if she does not want to proceed with a pregnancy, she has little or no safe options open to her under current provisions.

“How can you travel if your movements and finances are being controlled? How can you risk disclosing that you don’t want to proceed with a pregnancy, even if you have been raped, if you are already under daily violent threat and you are in an overseas environment?” she said.

“It is crucial that we have a sensitive, sensible and safe abortion policy that allows a woman – any woman, anywhere – to, firstly, be supported to decide what she wants to do, and then, if she chooses to terminate her pregnancy, to ensure that she is linked into safe and legal services in her own country.”

For more information contact:

Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Safe Ireland Welcomes Momentous Enactment of Domestic Violence Act by President Higgins

President Michael D. Higgin’s signing of the Domestic Violence Bill into law ushers in a safer future for women and children

Safe Ireland said that the signing into law of the new Domestic Violence Act by President Michael D. Higgins last night signalled the start of a safer future for women and children.

The national social change agency working to end domestic violence said that the new Act would now position Ireland as a world leader by providing a robust legislative foundation that recognises and responds to the control and inequality that is at the heart of domestic violence and abuse.

It said that it was very hopeful that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan would commence the various sections of the Act as soon as possible so that the wide ranging provisions within it will be available for victims of the crime of domestic violence.

“This is ground-breaking and momentous because it means that we will have, for the first time, a robust legislative foundation that recognises and responds to the pernicious pattern of control, dominance, inequality and psychological abuse which is really at the heart of violence within the home,” said Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland.

“Significantly, women can be confident that coercive control – a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour – will be recognised as a criminal offence in this country,” she continued. “This, we have no doubt, will help save women’s lives in this country.”

Safe Ireland also said that it was extremely significant that the Act recognises that violence between intimate partners is actually an aggravating offence. This, O’Halloran said, will help eradicate the culture of the past that has minimised violence within the home as “just a domestic or an issue that is a private one only.”

The agency also welcomed the increase in access to court and the introduction of statutory guidance for court orders allowed for within the Act and said that these would ensure greater transparency and consistency for women so reliant on a functioning judicial system.

For more information contact: Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Domestic Violence Bill On the Path to Long Anticipated Enactment

Final stage of new Bill brings Ireland one step closer to being one of the safest countries in the world for women, says Safe Ireland­.

Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence, commended Senators for passing the ground-breaking and radical Domestic Violence Bill 2017 through its final stages in the Seanad today.

The agency, which works with 40 domestic violence services around the country, said that it was extremely hopeful that the Bill could be now signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins by the end of this month. It said that the Bill could help make Ireland one of the safest countries for women and children.

“Effectively, from today, and thanks to the extraordinary collective co-operation of Senators and TDs from all parties, women can be confident that coercive control will be recognised as a criminal offence in this country,” said Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland.

“This is ground-breaking because it means that we will have, for the first time, a robust legislative foundation that recognises and responds to the pernicious pattern of control, dominance, inequality and psychological abuse which is really at the heart of violence within the home.”

Safe Ireland also said that it was extremely significant that the Bill recognises that violence between intimate partners is actually an aggravating offence. This, O’Halloran said, will help eradicate the culture of the past that has minimised violence within the home as “just a domestic or an issue that is a private one only.”

The agency also welcomed the increase in access to court and the introduction of statutory guidance for court orders allowed for within the Bill and said that these would ensure greater transparency and consistency for women so reliant on a functioning judicial system.

For more information contact:
Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Safe Ireland Commends Government Commitments to New, Robust Domestic Violence Bill

Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence, this evening welcomed the Government’s commitments to delivering a new Domestic Violence Bill 2017 which, it says, is robust, visionary and cutting edge in its response to the needs of women and children needing protection and safety.

The Bill passed its final stages in Dáil Eireann this evening. Safe Ireland said that it was extremely hopeful that it could now pass through final stages in the Seanad and could be enacted into law before the beginning of the summer.

While it acknowledged that it is unrealistic to think that the new legislation would change things overnight for women and children, the agency said that it was aware that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has started to put infrastructural foundations in place already to ensure that key radical elements within the new Bill can be implemented as soon as possible.

Safe Ireland welcomed particularly the work undertaken by Government, and supported by TDs and Senators from across both houses, to secure ground-breaking new amendments that recognise the complexity of domestic violence as a crime of emotional, psychological as well as physical control.

Caitríona Gleeson, Programme and Communications Manager with Safe Ireland, highlighted amendments underpinning coercive control as an offence and recognising that violence between intimate partners is actually an aggravating offence, as examples of how the Bill responds to the reality of the experiences of women.

She also welcomed the increase in access to court and the introduction of statutory guidance for court orders allowed for within the Bill and said that these would ensure greater transparency and consistency for women so reliant on a functioning judicial system.

For more information contact:
Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Every Day the Domestic Violence Bill is Delayed Vital New Protections for Women and Children are Denied

Oireachtas members are urged to do their best for those who are resisting the worst every hour and every day by prioritising the radical and robust Domestic Violence Bill.

Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence, today urged the Oireachtas to prioritise the Domestic Violence Bill 2017 and to do everything in their power to ensure that it is enacted by the Summer recess at the very latest.

The Bill was passed by the Select Committee on Justice and Equality this morning (second stage). However, it is now almost seven years since the legislation was first promised by the previous Government in 2011 and a full year since it was introduced as a Bill to the Oireachtas.

The agency described the Bill as groundbreaking, strong and visionary. They acknowledged the dogged and Trojan work that has been done by Oireachtas members in Government and in opposition to refine the Bill to the point where strengthening protections and provisions agreed through amendments are “robust, radical and evidence-based”.

Caitriona Gleeson, Programme Manager with Safe Ireland, called for the same dogged determination to be shown now in bringing the Bill into law.

“Every day that this Bill is delayed is a further day that critical new protections are being denied to
women and children seeking protection and justice from our legal system,” she said.

“At a very minimum, there are almost 140 women calling domestic violence services every day,” said Caitriona Gleeson, Programme Manager with Safe Ireland. “These women and children are coming to us because their homes are tyrannies, because they are facing vicious violence, coercion, intimidation and fear. We are asking our political leaders to do their very best for those who are
resisting the worst every day.”

Latest Safe Ireland figures show that domestic violence services across Ireland answered 50,551 helpline calls in a year. This does not include the face to face support provided in that year to 10,101 women and 3,685 children (2016).

Safe Ireland welcomes particularly the introduction in the legislation of the new offence of coercive control, statutory guidance for the making of DVA orders and the recognition that an intimate relationship between a victim and a perpetrator will be regarded as an aggravating offence, moving away at last from the minimisation of the crime that has allowed it be sidelined as “just a domestic.”

It also welcomes the extension of safety orders to non-cohabiting applicants who do not have a child in common but who are in an intimate relationship. This, Safe Ireland said, represents a significant increase in the number of people who will be protected by the legislation.

For more information contact:

Edel Hackett
Tel: 087-2935207

Key Changes that Will Change Women’s Lives

  • Open list of factors and circumstances to be taken into account on any application for a DV Act order
  • New offence of coercive control.
  • Intimate relationship as an aggravating factor on sentence.
  • Offence of forced marriage.
  • New Emergency Barring Order which recognises that the perpetrator can be evicted from his/her home.
  • Extension of Safety Orders to non-cohabiting applicants in an intimate relationship.
  • Restrictions on personal cross-examinations in DVA applications.
  • Power to allow evidence to be given by video-link.
  • Breach of DVA order proceedings to be held in camera.
  • Right of accompaniment.

Safe Ireland Welcomes Historic Government Amendments to Domestic Violence Bill

Safe Ireland welcomed amendments published by the Government to the Domestic Violence Bill 2017 as an historic breakthrough for women and children living with violence in their homes.

The Government amendments,  recognise for the first time, that coercive control is a criminal offence and, significantly, that violence within an intimate relationship should be viewed as an aggravating factor in sentencing.

A number of other amendments recommended by Safe Ireland have been incorporated also, including establishing statutory guidance for the granting of domestic violence orders. The aim of such an amendment is to increase consistency in decision making on the granting of orders. 

The amendments show the Government’s understanding and recognition that violence in intimate relationships is the most serious breach of trust. If passed, we can, for the first time in this country, move on from minimising violence and abuse in the home as ‘just a domestic. These amendments instead declare that violence within an intimate relationship is the most serious breach of trust between people and is in fact more serious because of that.

Safe Ireland and other NGOs have been advocating for these amendments for over three years since the new DV legislation was first presented.

The Bill was passed by the Seanad in December and is waiting to be resumed in the Dail. Safe Ireland call on all political parties and independents to support the amendments for women and children and to work together to ensure that the Domestic Violence Bill is now passed through the Oireachtas to enactment stage as swiftly as possible.

Safe Ireland publishes a Review of its work for 2015 and 2016

It is with great pleasure that we in SAFE Ireland present our Review for the years 2015 and 2016. This has been a positive and productive time and we have achieved many things.

We have been steadfast at all times in collaborating with our Members throughout the country to ‘centre stage’ women and children’s needs in all that we do together. We are as committed as ever to making Ireland the safest country in the world for women and children. We understand that inequality begins in the home and it must end in the home. We realise that this ambition will take time to manifest and all of us working together over the coming years. But it is possible, we live in a relatively small jurisdiction, a jurisdiction that is less complicated than many. But more than that we have a track record in this country of providing leadership and vision for change, we have led the way many times and particularly in marriage equality achieved in 2015, in the lifetime of this review.

That said, we have work to do and we have changes to make if we want to have an impact on the lives of women and children experiencing domestic violence. We have to find better ways of working at interagency, interdisciplinary levels, we all have a role to play to end domestic violence. We need to be less busy building our agencies, profiling our agencies and really get serious about eradicating domestic violence from our homes and communities. We need to enable a generosity of spirit to grow in our work together, it is not what we do but how we do it together that matters.

In 2015 following an extensive review and consultation process with internal and external stakeholders, the Board and Members of SAFE Ireland agreed a 5-year Strategic Plan Changing Culture and Transforming the Response to Domestic Violence in Ireland 2015-2020 which sets our goal, core vision and key priorities that will underpin our work over the coming years. 2015 marked the start of the delivery of our transformative social change agenda on the issue with the support of The Community Foundation for Ireland who has committed to part-fund the implementation of our Strategic Plan over the next 5 years.

In 2016 with our Members and colleagues throughout the globe SAFE Ireland created the SAFE Ireland Summit, a place where we dared to listen, where we dared to think outside the box, where we posed questions and pushed unwanted boundaries that hemmed us in and kept violence alive. It was a place of vital endeavour, we dared to believe that Ireland can become the safest country in the world and we understood that we needed to change the world, we needed a bigger vision for everybody throughout the world. We will build on this work so that the world can be safer for all of us, we will dare to stand for LOVE and we invite you to join us in this sacred work.

View the SAFE Ireland Annual Review 2015-2016 here (PDF 10Mb)