The fear felt under the facade of a loving partner was highlighted by Women’s Aid which revealed women are most vulnerable in their own home.
One in five females in Ireland experience domestic violence, with one in seven suffering severe physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid, said almost 2,500 incidents ofphysical abuse were reported to its helpline last year, with some victims being tied up and locked in a room for days, having boiling water thrown in their face, punched, beaten, burnt and even shot at.
Almost a quarter of callers said they were abused by an ex-spouse or former partner.
Its Home Truths Campaign marked International Day Against Violence Against Women and the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“When we think of human rights abuses we tend to think of the prisoner of conscience in a distant land or the actions of an oppressive regime,” said Ms Martin.
“But the type and levels of violence which women in Ireland experience athome, is shockingly similar, from being tied and beaten to denied sleep or food and drink, to regular rapes.”
Since 1996, 146 women have been murdered in Ireland. Of the resolved cases, half were murdered by a partner or ex-partner.
The organisation used traditional symbols of intimate relationships — the wedding dress, bride, and love hearts — to highlight the underside of theserelationships in an installation outside the Dáil.
Ms Martin said the items highlighted the darker side of being in love.
“While the Women’s Aid Helpline Statistics show that marriage is still the most common context for domestic violence, it is by no means the only context, and many women experience domestic violence at the hands of cohabitees, boyfriends and exes,” said Ms Martin.
“However, many of those who experience domestic violence outside the context of marriage cannot avail of legal protection from the violence.
“The new Civil Partnership Bill provides a wonderful opportunity to extend protection from domestic violence to all those experiencing it. Women’s Aid welcomes the changes to date, but is calling on the Government to ensure that all residency requirements be removed from domestic violence Safety and Protection Orders. This will ensure that those experiencing domestic violence in dating relationships and after separation will be eligible for protection.”
The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) vowed to stand in solidarity with Women’s Aid to oppose violence against women.
Joanna McMinn, NWCI director, said home is not a safe place for victims ofdomestic violence, but a place of fear, violence, rape, abuse and terror.
“Women in Ireland continue to face discrimination, violence and injusticesimply because of their gender,” said Ms McMinn.
“The 16 Days of Action Campaign highlights domestic violence as an abuse of basic human rights.”