A new awareness-raising campaign has been launched to let people know that domestic and sexual violence support services are still available during Covid-19 crisis.
The #StillHere initiative, spearheaded by the Department of Justice and Equality, has been welcomed by organisations such as the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC).
The campaign has launched across TV, radio and social media.
The campaign stresses that restrictions on movement do not apply to a person escaping from a risk of harm or seeking to access essential services.
"I want victims to know that they will continue to receive the highest priority from the civil and criminal justice system throughout this crisis. I want perpetrators to know that too," said Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that An Garda Síochána remains committed to the protection of those suffering abuse and violence and to the pursuit of perpetrators.
Noeline Blackwell, CEO of DRCC, said that she was "very concerned" that people who need support may not be able to access it - either because they are unaware that the services are still available or because they are being prevented from doing so.
"Our clients and callers are telling us that they feel intensely isolated and anxious at this time. Many are cut off from the normal supports and routines they rely on for relief or for escape.
"They say they value our help more than ever. That means that it is vitally important that we get the message out widely that if they can reach out for help, we will be there”, she said.
Stress can increase the chance of violence in homes when there is a history of domestic abuse but Ms Blackwell said that there can be no excuse for such behaviour.
"The public health emergency and any frustrations that arise from it are not an excuse or justification for any abuse.
"Sexual violence remains harmful and will very often be criminal.”
The National 24-Hour Rape Crisis Centre Helpline and other services provided by the DRCC remain open to those who have suffered rape and other sexual abuse, as well as supporting their family and friends.
Support services available
1800 77 8888, text 086 823 844, drcc.ie, email@example.com
1800 341 900, safeireland.ie
1800 341 900, text 087 959 7080, womensaid.ie, firstname.lastname@example.org
1800 816 588, mens-network.net
01 554 3811, mensaid.ie