A new Women's Aid report has laid bare the plight of domestic abuse victims during the Covid-19 crisis.
One 78-year-old woman told how she was trapped with her abusive partner for weeks during lockdown and felt "the only way out is to die".
Agnes (not her real name) said she felt "trapped, suffocated and frightened" when she was cocooning at home with her 80-year-old abusive husband.
Her story is included in the report, which said abusers were coughing and spitting on women with pre-existing health conditions who were trapped in domestic violence during the lockdown.
Women's Aid said some women were left suicidal as lockdown directly led to the emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse of victims who were trapped with their tormentor.
The number of people contacting Women's Aid was up by more than 40pc at the height of the pandemic earlier this year.
More than 6,500 people contacted the frontline service between late March and the end of June, compared with 4,563 people in the same time period last year.
Reports of domestic abuse to gardaí was up 25pc in April and May, compared with last year.
Agnes, who was included in the report, said she has suffered emotional, physical and financial abuse throughout her marriage and her husband makes her wait on him "hand and foot".
"Whenever I've asked him to help, he has got angry and agg- ressive with me, shouting things like 'You owe me, you old bitch'," she said.
"With the Covid-19 lockdown, the situation has become even more unbearable as I feel completely trapped and suffocated and I'm frightened of telling anyone in case matters just escalate."
During lockdown, her 58- year-old son, who is also abusive, moved in with her and her husband.
Her two other children live abroad, and Agnes said she does not want to "worry or upset them" by telling them what is happening.
She is also too afraid to take out a safety order against her husband.
"Having not seen my friends in weeks, I'm feeling very alone and isolated," she said.
"My son is at home all the time now and there's literally nowhere to escape.
"I feel like the only way out is to die. The stress and intensity of the situation is mak- ing me feel hopeless and desperate.
I've thought about ending my own life just to escape the situation."
The Women's Aid report on the impact of Covid-19 said lockdown had directly caused a number of abusive incidents.
It said women had been raped and beaten by partners "as well as feeling constantly monitored in their homes".
"Women with underlying health issues reported their partners were deliberately not adhering to Covid-19 restrictions, and some were effect- ively weaponising the virus by coughing or spitting on women," it said.
Women's Aid will release its annual report for 2019 today.
There were 20,763 contacts with Women's Aid last year, up from 19,089 in 2018.