Level 5 restrictions have seen the resumption of a domestic violence awareness campaign.
The ‘Still Here’ campaign began in April during the first lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic as a well-reported increase in domestic violence incidents occurred.
Charities reported a surge in people accessing their services with Women's aid fielding a 43% increase in the number of calls from women in abusive relationships during the last lockdown.
The campaign will be broadcast across television and radio and aims to promote the supports and services available to victims and highlights that the 5km travel limit under Level 5 does not apply to victims of domestic violence.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee said domestic abuse incidents will continue to be prioritised by An Garda Síochána, the Courts and the Legal Aid Board during the pandemic and that support is available no matter the distance.
“We know that home is not a safe place for all of us, and domestic violence increased during the initial lockdown we faced in the Covid-19 crisis.
“I want victims of domestic and sexual abuse to know that An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and other services, including the vital supports provided by our community and voluntary sector, are still here for you as we now face more restrictions," said Minister McEntee.
The Justice Minister acknowledged the frightening prospect of Level 5 restrictions for some people but said protection is available.
“For anyone living in an abusive relationship or living in fear for their safety, going back to Level 5 must feel frightening and difficult.
If you are in this situation I want you to know we are here for you, we will react when you need us, we will protect you.
“Finally I want perpetrators to know that irrespective of what restrictions are in place, there will be no let-up in our efforts to tackle domestic and sexual violence,” she said.
Campaigners have said lockdowns can lead to aggravating domestic situations as the abuser was back in the home 24/7 while some had lost their jobs, creating challenging circumstances.
Designed with media buyers PHD Media Ireland and the creative agency TBWA/Dublin, the campaign from the Department of Justice features a variety of victims of domestic violence in different scenarios.
The Still Here TV advertisement shows a woman’s attempt to keep in contact with her friend through a video call being interrupted by her abusive partner.
The first radio advertisement depicts a mother trying to reassure her child that their effort to hide from their abuser is just a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ while the second advertisement features a male victim trying to communicate his problem to the emergency services.
Speaking about the campaign, Minister of State for Law Reform James Browne said new restrictions can have the most significant effects on vulnerable people but that support is there.
“We, unfortunately, know the significant effects Covid restrictions can have on our most vulnerable, including victims of domestic and sexual violence.
“The Still Here initiative between the Department of Justice, frontline State services and the community and voluntary sector, working together to support victims of domestic and sexual violence, continues.
“Our support for victims of domestic and sexual violence is steadfast,” said Mr Browne.
A number of helplines and online resources are available for victims of domestic abuse including:
- Legal Aid Board Helpline 1890 615 200 or 01 646 9600
- Women’s Aid Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900
- Rape Crisis Centre National Helpline 1800 77 8888
- Male Domestic Abuse Advice Line 1800 816 588
- Men’s Aid Ireland 01 554 3811
- Directory of local domestic violence services online at www.safeireland.ie
- Directory of local sexual violence services online at https://www.rapecrisishelp.ie/
Further information about the campaign is also available www.stillhere.ie
The website has detailed information on the range of supports available to people and the contact details of support services available to them, both nationally and in their local area.