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Domestic violence by adult children against parents rises as stress peaks under lockdown

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‘It’s scary’: Domestic violence campaigner  Priscilla Grainger. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

‘It’s scary’: Domestic violence campaigner Priscilla Grainger. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

‘It’s scary’: Domestic violence campaigner Priscilla Grainger. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Shocking cases of older people being abused in their own homes are emerging across Ireland, a support group and law expert have reported.

Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland (SDVII) said the number of cases involving abuse of older people is rising, along with domestic violence cases.

Several elderly victims have been granted protection orders in recent days, records show.

In one case, SDVII said, a victim was violently attacked and slammed against a wall. In another case, parents sought to protect themselves from their adult son who was getting drunk and abusing them in their home.

SDVII founder Priscilla Grainger described the cases involving older abuse victims as "heartbreaking".

She said it was the first time the group had seen several types of these cases emerge, adding the country's lockdown was putting pressure on families. Ms Grainger said: "There's been a very noticeable increase in the number of domestic violence reports we've been getting in recent weeks, but it's especially upsetting to see cases involving older people, some of whom are literally being terrorised in their own homes.

"We've seen cases involving people aged up to 80 who are being forced to get a protection order or barring order against their own children. It's scary.

"In some cases it appears the problem is exacerbated because they're living at home, most likely because they've got no choice."

Family law solicitor Sandra McAleer said she has seen a "huge rise" in domestic violence cases across the board, including ones involving elderly parents and their adult children.

Ms McAleer said: "Usually the parents own the family home and the adult children only have an invitation to stay in the property."

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Most applicants need the assistance of the court or gardaí to remove their adult children which can be very stressful for the applicant.

"The Domestic Violence Act allows for the applicant parent to bring an application or if they are not in a position due to health or inability, the HSE can bring this application on their behalf, especially if they cannot leave the family home due to bad health or serious underlying conditions."

This week gardaí said there has been an 18pc increase in the calls for help in relation to domestic violence over the past year as they launched the third phase of Operation Faoiseamh in support of abuse victims.

SDVII is braced for the Christmas surge in calls to the support line, which it says is already happening. Ms Grainger fears this Christmas will be the most difficult SDVII has experienced.

To help victims this year, SDVII has bought dozens of mobile phones to help woman and men who are trying to escape their abusers but don't have the means to do so.

According to Ms Grainger, in many cases abusers exert control over their victims by taking away their mobile phones and other means of communication with the outside world.

Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland can be contacted on 086 869 7022, or visit stopdomesticviolence.ie or the Facebook page facebook.com/pg/stopdomesticviolenceinireland/about


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