Further increases in women and children contacting a domestic violence service during the second lockdown of 2020

On average, at least 2,018 women and 550 children received support from a domestic violence service each month from September to December 2020, according to Safe Ireland’s second Tracking the Shadow Pandemic – Lockdown 2 report, published today.

November was the busiest month of the four-month period. When Ireland was at the height of its second Level 5 lockdown, over 2,180 women and 602 children received support from a dedicated domestic violence service. Safe Ireland is the national social change agency working with 39 member services across the country.

Over 2,445 new women and 486 new children contacted a domestic violence service for the very first time in these four months. This equates to 611 new women and 122 new children every month, or 20 new women and 4 children every day, who had, as far as is known, never contacted a service before.

The statistics for the latter part of 2020 were higher generally than those reported over the first six months of the pandemic. The first Safe Ireland Tracking the Shadow Pandemic report, which covered the six month period between March and August 2020, showed that at least 1,970 women and 411 children received support each month.

Helpline calls were also up on average over the second part of the year. Domestic violence services answered 23,336 helpline calls over the period, an average of 191 calls a day, up slightly from 184 calls a day in the first six months of the pandemic. November was the busiest month of the period, with 6,409 calls answered – that’s 213 a day or nearly 9 calls every hour.

Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that even in an extraordinary time of crisis, these numbers were shocking. Adequate resources and creative solutions were needed to respond to the needs of women but also the needs of the frontline emergency professionals responding to them, she said.

“Since last March, our 39 frontline-service member organisations have been working under enormous pressure to respond to those fleeing domestic abuse”, she said. “This frontline work cannot stop. It can take no breaks. From these figures we can see that somewhere, every day, in this small country, there is a woman, most often with children, looking to escape abuse and violence.”

“Our message to survivors remains clear and steadfast. You do not have to live in an oppressive home. You do not have to endure abuse and control. There is professional support available in your community,” she continued.

“However, the dedicated professionals who provide the vital supports and services needed by women and children in their communities must also be adequately resourced. At the moment, and as a legacy going back many years, there are significant disparities between those working in DSGBV services and other social care settings. Parity and respect must be afforded DV frontline workers.”

She said that Safe Ireland continues to welcome the Government’s national prioritisation of domestic violence during the Covid crisis. But it was essential, she said, that a new, integrated National Services Development plan be put in place as a cornerstone of the forthcoming third National Strategy on domestic violence. Crucially, she said, multi-annual funding must be established to enable proper planning and service development. Ill-conceived technocratic processes hamper the urgent work of response and prevention of domestic violence.

On average 167 women and 265 children stayed in a range of domestic violence accommodation (range of refuge, safe homes and supported housing) each month between September and December. This is slightly down on those in accommodation over the first six months. In total, 808 requests for refuge could not be met in the four months because there was no space. This equates to 7 requests per day on average, slightly down on the first six months. In October, however, 306 requests for refuge could not be met, the highest for the tracked months of 2020.

Tracking the Shadow Pandemic 2 – September to December 2020

  • On average, 2018 women and 550 children received support from a domestic violence service every month from September to December 2020.
  • 2,445 new women and 496 new children accessed services for the first time.
  • 23,336 helpline calls were answered, an average of 191 calls a day.
  • November was the busiest month for women (2,180) and December for children (604).
  • 167 women and 265 children stayed in a range of domestic violence accommodation.
  • 808 requests for refuge could not be met due to lack of space.
  • Services held 18,892 phone support sessions, 166 video support sessions and 8,783 in-person support sessions.

Notes to editors

The report is based on data collected monthly from 30 domestic violence member services (including Women’s Aid which runs the national helpline. The first Tracking the Shadow Pandemic report was based on data from 32 member services. Safe Ireland has 39 member services in total. However, not all could submit data every month. The final report relies on consistent data.

For comparison – Tracking the Shadow Pandemic 1 – March to August 2020 (6 months)

  • 3,450 women and 589 children contacted a domestic violence service for the first time.
  • On average 1,970 women and 411 children received support from a domestic violence service every month.
  • 33,941 helpline calls were answered – an average of 184 calls every day.
  • Services held 33,624 phone support sessions, 575 video support sessions and 8,143 in-person support sessions.
  • Services received a 2,260 helpline emails, 3,452 texts and 1,047 online chat messages.

On average 191 women and 288 children were in domestic violence accommodation each month. 1,351 requests for refuge could not be met due to lack of space.

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