Child abuse up 25pc on previous year – Women’s Aid report
REPORTS of child abuse increased by 25pc in 2011 and more than 13,000 calls were made to the Women’s Aid helpline, it was revealed today.
Thousands of children are being emotionally, physically and sexually abused in the family home, figures have revealed.
More than 2,000 women who called a domestic violence helpline said their children also suffered at the hands of a perpetrator, and another 3,000 youngsters saw their mothers threatened, beaten and raped.
Margaret Martin, director of Women's Aid, said domestic violence remains a serious problem in Irish society.
More than 11,000 calls reporting 13,000 incidents were made to the charity last year - with 44pc disclosing children were also directly abused or present.
"Women have told us that their children were being hit, smacked, constantly shouted at, and in some cases, sexually abused," said Ms Martin.
"Many children will witness their mother being shouted at, threatened, physically assaulted and at times will see their mother being raped.
"Where they do not directly see the abuse occurring they may overhear abusive incidents, or will see the aftermath of it such as bruises, broken bones, damaged furniture and belongings."
Ms Martin said thousands of women across Ireland are living in a constant state of fear that the next attack will result in serious injury or death.
"In 2011, women disclosed that they were punched, slapped, kicked, held down and strangled and beaten with household items," she said.
"Women told us that they were constantly belittled, criticised, blamed and stalked and harassed via technology both during the relationship and after leaving.
"Women reported that they had been raped, sexually assaulted and given no option but to comply with their abuser's sexual demands."
A male intimate partner carried out the abuse in 74pc of cases.
Pregnant women and new mothers also reported being beaten and raped, and many women were worrying about how to protect their children, she said.
"It is heartbreaking to listen to women who, with their children, are living in a constant state of fear," Ms Martin added.
"Many women will seek to leave the abusive situation when they become aware of the risk to their children. Unfortunately, the abuse can continue even when women end the relationship.
"Far from ending the abuse, this time can be very dangerous for women and children. Many women reported that abusive former partners were continuing to use access visits to abuse both them and children."
Women's Aid has appealed for public funds for its freephone helpline, 1800 341 900, which is open from 10am to 10pm seven days a week.
Elsewhere, domestic violence charity Sonas Housing warned incidences of domestic violence can increase during football tournaments.
It said Ireland's wins or losses and alcohol can be used as an excuse to exacerbate violence or to legitimise violence in an abusive relationship.