Children the invisible victims in the shadow pandemic of domestic abuse

Safe Ireland said that the high numbers of children consistently accessing its members services with their mothers throughout 2020 must be highlighted, saying that they are the “invisible victims” of the pandemic.

Safe Ireland’s latest Tracking the Shadow Pandemic – Lockdown 2 report shows that, on average, 550 children a month received support from a dedicated domestic violence service over the four month period from September to December 2020.  Over the first six months of the pandemic, from March to September, an average of 411 children accessed services each month.

Safe Ireland is the national domestic violence agency working with 39 domestic violence services across the country.

Of the children who accessed services in the latter part of the year, at least 486 of them were ‘new’ children – that is children who had never accessed a service before with their mothers.

The report also shows that at least 265 children stayed in a range of domestic violence accommodation (refuge, safe homes and supported housing) every month between September and December. Over this period, 167 women on average every month were staying in refuge, safe and supported housing.  More children than women are consistently staying in domestic violence accommodation.

“We are extremely concerned that children living with domestic violence are suffering more than ever as this lockdown continues,” said Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland. “They are the invisible victims of this shadow pandemic of violence and abuse, and must be identified as victims in their own right. Mothers are extremely worried and stressed about their welfare and constantly ask for extra therapeutic supports for them. This is even more critical to provide now that schools remain closed since before Christmas.”

“However, there seems to be little additional funding or consideration for the specialist supports and therapeutic services that are needed by children,” she said. “Children are not just bystanders or accessories to violence, they are direct victims of abuse and control. Research tells us clearly that coercive control has the same debilitating impact on children as it does on their mothers.”

Of particular concern, Safe Ireland said, is the high numbers of children who accessed a range of specialist support services in the month of December, and in the run-up to Christmas. While the numbers of women accessing services reduced in December, the number of children being supported by domestic violence services rose to 604, the highest point in the Covid year.

Notes to editors

Tracking the Shadow Pandemic – Lockdown 2 is based on data collected monthly by 30 domestic violence services. Safe Ireland works with 39 services in total. However, not all services could submit data every month of the period in question. The final report relies on consistent data only.

See also the Safe Ireland release outlining the overall statistics on women and children seeking support from domestic violence services from domestic violence services from September to December 2020.

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