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Thursday 26 April 2018

Reports of domestic attacks on children up 55pc in recession

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

CHILDREN are bearing the brunt of domestic violence during the recession, with a 55pc surge in reports of abuse against minors being made to the Women's Aid Helpline.

There were 3,230 specific disclosures of child abuse to the national domestic-violence helpline last year, compared with 2,076 in 2011.

Of these, there were 281 disclosures where children were physically or sexually abused by their mother's abuser.

Children have reportedly watched their mothers being beaten and raped and some have even been abused during access visits by the perpetrator.

There were 467 disclosures of sexual abuse made by women in 2012, including 176 rapes.

The Women's Aid annual report also revealed how children are suffering the effects of financial abuse inflicted on their mothers being denied access to household monies for heating, food and clothing for the children, as well as perpetrators withholding child maintenance and lying to the courts about their income.

Margaret Martin, director of Women's Aid, said that domestic violence was "the most common context for child abuse", which often begins when a woman is pregnant or shortly after she has given birth.

Women's Aid has called for the provision of an on-call system for accessing emergency barring orders to give women and children at risk round-the-clock protection.

The annual report has laid bare the prevalence of domestic violence, with the organisation receiving a "staggering" 16,200 disclosures of abuse. Some 328 protection orders were issued as well as 57 interim barring orders.

Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor described the Women's Aid statistics as "harrowing" and called for a radical overhaul of the current legal system for women and children in abusive homes.

* The National Freephone Helpline for Women's Aid is 1800 341900 and it can be contacted at www.womensaid.ie.

Analysis: PAge 33

Irish Independent

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