Saturday 25 November 2017

One in three women faces domestic abuse

Emma Murphy's online testimony shines a light on Ireland's shocking domestic abuse figures

Francis Usanga and Emma Murphy in an older picture on Emma's Facebook account (Pic: Facebook)
Francis Usanga and Emma Murphy in an older picture on Emma's Facebook account (Pic: Facebook)
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

One-in-three women in Ireland have experienced emotional, physical, sexual or financial abuse, a new European report reveals.

The shocking statistics, from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency report 2014 (FRA), claims that an estimated 470,000 Irish women have been victims of some sort of domestic abuse - including name-calling and controlling behaviour - since the age of 15. And almost 80pc have never reached out for help.

Until now, it has been widely estimated that one-in-five Irish women have been physically abused by a current or former partner.

Although the figure appears alarmingly high, a leading women's rights organisation says the FRA survey - the first of its kind on violence against women across the 28 member states of the European Union - gives "an accurate" account of what is happening behind closed doors.

Some initial findings were published on International Women's Day 2014.

However, advocates are drawing fresh attention to the figures after Dublin mother, Emma Murphy (26), publicly accused her former partner of physical and mental abuse last week. Safe Ireland and Women's Aid are calling on the Government "to be more visible" on the issue.

The latest research is based on interviews with 42,000 women across the EU - including 1400 women in Ireland aged 20-75 years.

They were asked if they had ever experienced a broad range of emotional, physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse. Sharon O'Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland - the only national organisation representing frontline domestic violence services in Ireland - supports the findings.

"It is a robust report from a reputable agency so I would be saying that these figures are the most accurate. It is the first prevalent study for a long number of years in Ireland," she said.

"We've always known that stigma, shame and silence were barriers but trauma and shock after the assault is also preventing women from reaching out," she told the Sunday Independent.

The survey asked Irish women to cite the reasons they chose not to report serious incidents to the police.

Over 50pc stated they dealt with it themselves or turned to a loved one for help - considerably higher than the EU average of 39pc; 16pc said they felt shame and embarrassment.

Linda Smith, Manager of Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline, said they've experienced a 240pc increase in traffic since Emma's video went viral.

The Women's Aid freephone helpline is 1800 341900.

Sunday Independent

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