No Going Back

We are setting out our evidence-based vision for a transformative strategy and infrastructure for DSGBV in Ireland.

We have been clear from the very beginning of this pandemic that Covid-19 did not cause domestic and sexual violence. It has exposed it.


We have also been clear that this epidemic, and the quite phenomenal outpouring of communal empathy for those living with control and abuse that we have seen, has also fully revealed the inadequate, siloed and poorly resourced way in which we are responding to coercive control generally, and domestic violence specifically.

Over this past year, when we have discussed and named the intense stresses of this crisis period and the inadequate response structure with our frontline member services, the phrase “No Going Back” consistently came up as the expression which embodied what we all want to come out of this crisis.


Covid-19 has proven to be a threat, but also an opportunity, for the DSGBV sector – with all the burdens that implies.

Our new discussion paper sets out our vision for a transformative infrastructure and strategy to respond to the needs of survivors – primarily women and children. We hope that it will support the work that is currently underway to review extant DSGBV infrastructures. We also hope that it can feed into the development of the new third national strategy for DSGBV.

Four key recommendations

Safe Ireland has four key recommendations that will transform the way we respond to DSGBV in this country. We need:

  • A dedicated Minister and Ministry;
  • Integrated and survivor focused policy and services;
  • Sustainable and thriving specialist local services;
  • A world-leading intervention and prevention strategy.

Hardwired to Journeys

What makes this discussion paper unique and completely hardwired to the complex and holistic needs of women and children is that it pivots around the journeys that they take as they move from entrapment to safety and freedom. The paper also begins to set out some of our thinking on the need for more nuanced conceptualisations and language about DSGBV.

We undertook a series of scoping exercises, based on our years of experience and collaboration with our 39 service members, to document the journey of women and children.

Out of this we have developed two separate journey maps, one of which documents the Journey of a Woman and the second the Journey of a Child.

Journey of a woman from DSGBV to independent living

Journey of a woman from DSGBV to independent living

Journey of a child from DSGBV to independent living

Journey of a child from DSGBV to independent living

Time to think

We have developed a build-up map, or animation, of the Journey of a Woman so that you can take the time to contemplate the complicated, non-linear, stop and start, meandering and often prolonged journeys that women can take particularly.

We hope these maps will throw light on the necessity for an always present, multi-disciplinary response to support women and children on their journeys out of abuse.

What We’re Doing Isn’t Working

Unfortunately, however, we are responding to these non-linear, complicated and meandering journeys with a siloed approach – without leadership, without vital all of government connection, as you can see here.

Current National Framework

There is a Better Way

The lives of survivors can be transformed by a systemic change to policy, practice and commissioning that promotes early intervention and reduces the prevalence, impact and tolerance of DSGBV at all levels. We have set out what an integrated structure of response might look like, cascading from leadership at political level, through national and regional authorities to local service level.

Proposed National Framework

And this in turn is connected to the development of a fit for purpose, integrated regional service delivery plan.

Regional Integrated Structure and Delivery

A new model must be built which meets the journey and needs of survivors, which meets the demands of best- practice, transparency and genuine social change.

What we have set out here in our new discussion paper illustrates clearly that there can be no going back.

View and Download: No Going Back Discussion Paper

No Going Back Discussion Paper – March 2021

Download PDF of ‘No Going Back Discussion Paper’