Helpline for domestic abuse gets 5 calls an hour (with case study)

Domestic violence services answered 126 calls for help from women every day last year. A total of 46,137 calls were received — about five an hour.

Over the year, almost 11,500 women and children received support from domestic violence services.

The annual figures were released yesterday by Safe Ireland, the national organisation of domestic violence services.

They also show that 1,769 women and 2,699 children were accommodated or received supports in an emergency refuge.

However, the numbers looking for refuge have not varied hugely since 2011 because refuges are operating at full capacity. There were 3,494 unmet requests for emergency refuge accommodation because the refuge was full.

A wide range of non-accommodation services such as advocacy, counselling or court accompaniment were provided to 6,187 women — an increase of nearly 70% since national statistics started in 2007.

The statistics were released at the launch in Dublin yesterday of Safe Ireland’s new Man Up campaign that highlights the positive role men can play in ending domestic violence.

White House adviser for violence against women Lynn Rosenthal, and broadcaster Ryan Tubridy were special guests at the launch.

Safe Ireland chief executive Sharon O’Halloran said the figures were shocking, they were always shocking and services were operating beyond their capacity.

“This is an issue that needs investment,” she said.

Ms Rosenthal said she admired Ireland for taking on gender roles so squarely. She also said that men had a moral obligation to speak out against violence against women. “We must reveal the true social norm which is that men are uncomfortable with violence against women and they don’t support it,” she said.

Broadcaster Ryan Tubridy said there were men who could become violent against women because a television was too loud, the dinner was not cooked the way they wanted it, or the TV remote was missing.

“All these bizarre, unnecessary tiny horrible triggers that lead to these scenarios is something we need to talk about all the time,” he said.

He also said the use of the word ‘refuge’ to describe a safe place for women and children was “biblical”.

“Here we are in 2014 — I have nowhere to go; knock at the door; room at the inn. It’s extraordinary.” Mr Tubridy said our relationship as a country with women and children had not been good.

“Our history in this country is littered with carpets that cover the dark side of our national story and part of what we are doing today is lifting those carpets.”

Mr Tubridy said women suffering domestic abuse needed to be supported and the services they need must be funded and supported by the Government.

Man Up is supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Partner ‘became a monster’ after baby’s birth

Anne thought she had met “a very nice man” and then she got pregnant.

As soon as the child was born her partner turned into a monster.

“He was very jealous of the baby and started controlling me and stalking me. Then he got horrifically physical,” she said.

Anne went to a refuge but he found out where she was. She went home with a safety order but he ignored that.

“He raped me and I was left black and blue but I was told that if I took him to court it would be difficult to prove.”

Anne said the court system did not do enough to protect her from further abuse — it was too slow and the punishment meted out to her ex-partner was not enough to stop him from attacking her.

Eventually, she had to leave her home and job and go somewhere where he could not find her.

Her partner has supervised access to her son but Anne still feels unsafe.

“I think he knows where I live now and I am always afraid I will open the door and find him standing there,” she says.

— Evelyn Ring

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