Half of all Irish people think that a ‘victim-blaming culture’ still exists in our society, while a fifth of our young people have never heard of the term ‘coercive control’.
A study carried out by Red C found that there is still confusion across all age groups over what coercive control is – four years after legislation was passed to criminalise sustained emotional abuse.
The new research, which was commissioned by Allianz Insurance in association with Women’s Aid, found that the vast majority of people believe Ireland needs to take domestic abuse far more seriously.
The insurance company is working with Women’s Aid to set up a new national day of action on domestic abuse next February 6. It is the same day as the new national holiday to mark St Brigid’s Day.
As part of the research, Red C carried out a survey of a nationally representative sample of 961 people. Of the people questioned, 172 – just under 20pc – said they had personal experience of domestic abuse.
Another 552, well over half, said they knew of someone who had experienced domestic abuse.
“People across Ireland are finally and clearly saying ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to domestic abuse. While 70pc of people say that they fear that their action could make matters worse for the person being abused, they are also clearly saying that they do want to help.
We will lift the veil that is hiding domestic abuse and uplift and support those in situations of abuse
"We just need to show them how. That’s why we are taking over Ireland’s newest public holiday and creating an annual moment of truth to tackle domestic abuse,” said Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid.
“On February 6 next, we’ll be asking the people of Ireland to stop what they are doing, if only for a brief moment, and to publicly stand strong in support of those who are in situations of domestic abuse.
"In doing so we will lift the veil that is hiding domestic abuse and uplift and support those in situations of abuse.”
Half of those surveyed said they agreed that Ireland’s “victim blaming culture and the stigma attached to domestic abuse remains a barrier to seeking help for victims of domestic abuse”.
The same proportion of people said that lack of knowledge about the services available and the “lack of repercussions for perpetrators” are also barriers which survivors of abuse must negotiate.
Of those who were surveyed, almost a quarter of the demographic aged between 18 and 24 incorrectly believed that coercive control is not a crime in Ireland.
Coercive control – the persistent pattern of sustained emotional, psychological and often physical abuse – was criminalised in Ireland in 2018.
Ursula Murphy, a chief transformation officer with Allianz Insurance, conceded that Ireland had become more progressive and inclusive in recent years, but yet "we still see too many tragedies involving violence against women”.
"On February 6 next we’re asking everyone to join us, in standing strong to support those women, and to push for zero tolerance of domestic abuse in Ireland.”