Almost 800 women and children received accommodation and support from a domestic violence service — on a single day last year.
The deeply distressing experiences for 475 women and 301 children were outlined in a SAFE Ireland census, On Just One Day.
From that total, 120 women and 166 children were accommodated in a refuge, while 18 women could not be admitted to a protected shelter due to the lack of space.
Over the 24 hour period, 137 helpline calls — almost six every hour — were answered by domestic violence services around the country.
Eighteen women were pregnant while the majority, 290, were aged between 26 and 45. However, 23 women were over the age of 56 while eight were overt the age of 65.
Thirty-one women were accompanied or referred to a medical practice, a GP or a hospital.
Safe Ireland released the census to coincide with its presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill, which will allow for Ireland to opt into the EU’s victims directive.
Commenting on the figures, its chief executive Sharon O’Halloran said the issue of domestic violence could only be addressed with a minimum investment of €30 million a year to aid prevention, training and services for women and children trapped in domestic violence.
“Without committed leadership across all government departments and agencies, without significant investment in services and training and, without a fundamental cultural shift in how we view domestic violence as the serious crime it is, it will continue to risk lives, wreck families and poison futures,” she said.
Ms O’Halloran said the issue of domestic violence had been brought into sharp focus by the murder of Garda Tony Golden, shot dead when responding to an episode of domestic violence.
“All our notions of safety in community, safety at home and safety within the systems that are in place to protect us were shattered last week. The horrific and devastating consequences of domestic violence were exposed, resulting in the serious injury of a young woman and the death of a garda who was trying to help her escape domestic terrorism,” she said.
The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill will allow for Ireland to opt into the EU victims directive.The directive will mark the first time that training of professionals is included in a document that is legally binding.
It also identifies victims of domestic violence as having “special protection needs” and makes recommendations that victims are provided with information about refuges, services and domestic violence orders as a matter of rights, not discretion.
A number of groups appeared at the committee yesterday including the ISPCA, Children’s Rights Alliance, the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, the Victims’ Rights Alliance, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the Irish Penal Reform Trust and Facing Forward.
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