Friday 23 August 2019

Over half of refuges for women and children were full when needed last year as Women's Aid reveal they responded to 44 calls daily

(L-R) Miriam O'Callaghan, Margaret Martin, Women's Aid and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone
(L-R) Miriam O'Callaghan, Margaret Martin, Women's Aid and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

WOMEN'S Aid has said it is "an unacceptable situation" that more than half of refuges were full when women and children required safe places.

The domestic violence support organisation today released its impact report for 2018, which revealed that 20,722 disclosures of domestic violence against women and children were made to its services last year.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said: "Women told our confidential services that they had been isolated from family and friends, called derogatory names, had their lives and their safety threatened.

"Women disclosed that they were hit, beaten with weapons, stabbed and cut with knifes and strangled. For some women they were beaten and strangled while they were pregnant."

Last year, it responded to 15,835 calls - 44 a day - on its 24 hour national freephone helpline.

She said the service met with over 1,300 women in its Dublin based one-on-one support services, where women revealed a litany of abuse.

"Women were left with broken bones and teeth, bruising, head injuries and internal injuries as a result of rape. Some women experienced miscarriage because of an assault while others were experiencing post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and anxiety," she said.

Ms Martin warned that women and women and their children are often put at risk by the decision by the courts to allow perpetrators of domestic violence to have access to the children in the relationship, and has recommended that there be no contact with abusive fathers until contact is safe.

"We heard over 483 disclosures of women being abused during access visits, and 255 disclosures of children being abused during access visits."

She said that there is a "scandalous" situation in Ireland where refuge space for women and children is way below European recommendations. Refuge places that do exist are often full to capacity.

"When the national helpline staff and volunteers have tried to find a refuge place for women and her children, on 52pc of occasions, the refuge was full. This is an unacceptable situation and leaves our support workers having to tell women and children that there is no safe place to go to on many occasions," she said.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone who launched the report said that she was aware of concerns in relation to the number of emergency refuge spaces.

"We do need more. It is true that we need to improve access to safe and secure accommodation for women. We are consulting with service users and stakeholders in conducting a review of domestic violence accommodation both within the Greater Dublin area, as well as moving then through to the rest of the county.

"I have requested that that final document is published after its completion this year. We are looking at the need that would be required for additional spaces for refuges as well as the kinds of services."

However, she confirmed a new refuge will open in south Dublin in the third quarter of this year, which will have five family units and accommodate up to 15 children. The Rathmines Women’s Refuge will also reopen later this year.

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can contact Women’s Aid on their national helpline 1800 341 900.
  • For children, the national organisation, Childline can be contacted for confidential support on 1800 66 66 66 or text Talk to 50101.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News