Domestic violence victims 'hiding in sheds' to call Meath service for help

Domestic violence victims 'hiding in sheds' to call Meath service for help
Meath Women's Refuge and Support Services manager Sinead Smith.

Domestic violence victims are calling for help while hiding in sheds, say a Meath refuge and support service who are facing a "humongous challenge" to contact women in danger during the lockdown.

Meath Women's Refuge and Support Services is now urging women and children who have no escape from their abuser to use the 2km restriction zone get out and look for help where safe to do so.

The service has seen a surge in calls and increased demand for services since restrictions came into force as victims now unable to gain a reprieve from work or from visiting friends can't get away from their abuser, according to manager Sinead Smith.

"We are finding that it's difficult for women to contact us," she said.

One woman rang us in hiding in her shed and another's abuse restarted because her partner's addiction problem became an issue again since he has been at home.

"Women are also concerned about returning home to a partner after they obtain a protection order from the courts, which increases their fears now when they are home together all the time."

Outreach worker Bernie Kieran said they are appealing to victims, if they can, to go for a walk and use that time to ring the service or a friend for help and let them know when is a safe time to call.

"Despite the restrictions, we are still providing services 24/7. We are working to be creative and innovative, adapting to meet the needs of women and children during this crisis," she said.

"We are being told to stay at home and stay safe but home for a victim of domestic violence is not safe. Their world has become even smaller.

We are facing a humongous challenge to contact women. We don't even want to ring people whose abuser might be sitting next to them.

The service worked with 43 families in the refuge last year and a further 411 families through outreach services, including court assistance, and 92 children through their children's programme.

Manager Sinead highlighted that the service was working closely with An Garda Siochana, Tusla and Meath County Council who have provided them with community based units for families needing refuge.

"We are all working together to ensure that women and children's safety is top of everyone's agenda."

Meath Women's Refuge and Support Services can be contacted 24/7 on 046 9022393 and anyone wishing to donate to the service can do so via Paypal on www.dvservicesmeath.ie.

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