The following is a list of some of the rights and entitlements you should be aware of. We also recommend that you contact your local domestic violence service: they will be able to talk to you specifically about your options.

Your legal rights

All citizens have an equal right to protection under the law. In Ireland, domestic violence is dealt with in both criminal and civil law. Both systems are separate and are carried out in different courts.

Criminal law

Many of the behaviours and acts carried out by an abusive partner constitute a criminal offence. These include:

  • Breach of court orders
  • Threats to kill or cause serious harm
  • Coercive control
  • Criminal damage
  • Harassment
  • Assault, assault causing harm, assault causing serious harm
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Abduction of children
  • False imprisonment
  • Theft of property
  • Damage to property
  • Animal Cruelty
  • Child abuse / neglect

What happens when I report a crime?

Civil law

The Domestic Violence Bill 1996  provides a number of ways to help victims:

It is important to note that the court has the power to make access/custody orders in Domestic Violence proceedings.

What happens when I go to court for a domestic violence order?

A breach of a domestic violence order is a criminal offence and should be reported to An Garda Siochana. Breaches of domestic violence orders will be heard in criminal court.

Legal representation

Having legal representation when engaging with the court system is vitally important. While you may not need a solicitor when making the first application for a domestic violence order, it is highly advised you have one for the full hearing, especially if the person who you are applying for an order against has legal representation.

You may be eligible for legal aid if you are a person of moderate means. You can apply to your local Legal Aid Board’s office:

  • Call 1890 615 200
  • Visit their website

The majority of domestic violence services provide court accompaniment service. The judge decides if the accompaniment worker can go into the “in camera” / private hearing. Find out more about the services available to you.

Emergency Accommodation

If you have had to flee your home because of domestic violence and need to access emergency accommodation, you can access one of the 21 domestic violence refuges around the country

Local authority housing

If you are homeless, or are at risk of homelessness, you should contact the housing officer in your Local Authority.  Local Authorities are the main providers of social housing for people who cannot afford to buy their own homes.

Contact your local authority.

Private rented accomodation

If you are living in private rented accommodation, you may be entitled to Rent Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment. For more details on eligibility and applying for rent supplement visit Citizen’s Information

Or, contact the Department of Social Protection’s representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local Intreo or social welfare branch office.

Useful organisations

There are also a number of other organisations that can give you advice on housing:

Financial issues

Many women delay leaving an abusive relationship because of fears about supporting themselves and their children when they do leave. There is financial support available for those who meet qualifying criteria.