Tuesday 21 October 2014

Survey reveals most abused women suffering in silence

Brian Byrne

Published 06/03/2014 | 02:30

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO SAFE Ireland, Fiona Neary, Director, RCNI, Patricia Prendiville, EU FRA and Orla O’Connor, CEO of NWCI. Photo: Jason Clarke

ONE in four Irish women have endured physical and/or sexual abuse since the age of 15 – but the majority did not tell anyone.

A new wide-ranging survey revealed that Irish women are far less likely than the European average of 53pc to contact the gardai or any other organisation after enduring abuse.

It also showed that Irish women's needs are less likely to be met, with one in four who sought practical help stating they did not feel satisfied afterwards.

More than 60pc of those who looked for moral support felt their needs were not met, while a quarter said they did not receive sufficient support to protect them from future violence or harassment.

The survey from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU FRA), of 42,000 women aged between 18 and 74, found that 62 million women across the EU have experienced either physical or sexual abuse, with almost 400,000 of those living here.

It revealed that 31pc or 470,000 Irish women have endured psychological abuse from a partner, 12pc have been stalked, while more than half avoid certain streets or areas for fear of being assaulted.

Sharon O'Halloran, Director of SAFE Ireland, the national organisation of domestic violence services, said the survey "confirms that we are dealing with the tip of the iceberg".

Ms O'Halloran told the Irish Independent: "We're still dealing with cultural issues in Ireland around stigma and shame, and women are bearing the brunt of that."

She said that a number of things needed to be changed, "from the response of the police, to the courts system".

Patricia Prendiville, the Irish board member of the EU FRA, said the figures "cannot and should not be ignored".

"The enormity of the statistics is proof that violence does not impact on a few women only – it impacts on society every day. Policy makers must recognise the extent and enormity of the issue," said Ms Prendiville.

Irish Independent

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