Victim blaming a 'key barrier' to tackling domestic violence, survey finds

Victim blaming a 'key barrier' to tackling domestic violence, survey finds

Coercive control, a persistent pattern of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour including all or some forms of domestic abuse, became a criminal offence on January 1, 2019. File picture

Victim blaming and not knowing who to report abuse to remain key barriers to tackling domestic violence, according to a new survey.

The research carried out for Women’s Aid found that nine out of 10 people believe domestic abuse and coercive control need to be taken more seriously while 89% want to see the legal system do more to hold perpetrators accountable.

Half of all respondents said Ireland’s victim-blaming culture and the stigma attached to domestic abuse remain barriers to seeking help for victims while the same amount would not know who to reach out to in order to seek support for a case of domestic abuse.

The charity said the issue becomes increasingly complicated by people’s fear of making things worse for the victim as well as for their their own wellbeing.

Almost two thirds (60%) of respondents said they know someone who has experienced abuse while one in five have personal experience of domestic violence, according to the survey. Domestic abuse is predominantly experienced by women with one in four falling victim while one in 10 men experience abuse.

Almost a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds incorrectly believe that coercive control is not a criminal offence in this country. Coercive control, a persistent pattern of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour including all or some forms of domestic abuse, became a criminal offence on January 1, 2019.

Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid said: “People across Ireland are finally and clearly saying ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to domestic abuse. While 70% of people say they fear that their actions could make matters worse for the person being abused, they are also clearly saying that they do want to help. 

"We just need to show them how.” 

Women’s Aid is launching a new initiative with Allianz which will culminate in a national day of action to coincide with Ireland’s new bank holiday in February.

“We’ll be asking the people to stop what they are doing, if only for a brief moment, and to publicly stand strong in support of those who are in situations of domestic abuse. In doing so we will lift the veil that is hiding domestic abuse and uplift and support those in situations of abuse,” said Ms Benson.

The campaign is supported by Allianz Insurance with Chief Transformation Officer Ursula Murphy saying: “We still see too many tragedies involving violence against women. There is no time like now to act and this initiative is designed to engage, educate, and empower people across Ireland to stand together and tackle domestic abuse.”

- If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please click here for a list of support services.

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