Domestic violence calls gone through the roof

By Maurice Garvey

DOMESTIC violence calls to Tallaght-based Saoirse Women’s Refuge have “gone through the roof” during the lockdown period, according to Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Acting CEO Saoirse.

The centre received over 3,200 calls to their helpline in 2019, but from April to August this year, there were staggering 4,483 calls to Saoirse.

Ellens Head SHot 1

Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Acting CEO Saoirse

It is a significant increase and consistent with rising cases of domestic violence recorded nationally in 2020.

This has been attributed in large part to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 and the inordinate amount of time people in abusive relationships have had to spend at home.

“Saoirse has been very busy since the beginning of lockdown.

The escalation in the numbers of women and children who have been supported over the past number of months in the refuges, on the 24 hour helpline (4630000) and through our prevention and outreach services, sadly reflects the escalation of domestic abuse we have been hearing about, both nationally and internationally,” said Ms O’Malley Dunlop.

According to a Dublin City Council Policing report on Wednesday, there has been a marked increase in domestic violence reports in Ballyfermot.

This includes a 46 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents compared to 2019 (212 incidents reported in 2020).

Breach of domestic violence orders are up 81 per cent in the Ballyfermot policing district, with 38 cases reported this year.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop said domestic abuse isn’t always physical but can be in the form of “coercive control”, a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation used by the perpetrator, to harm, punish, and frighten their victim.

“Victims are mainly women and children though some men can also be victims of these crimes,” she said.

“This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. Very often the abuser will gradually create a dependency, which becomes a total dependency on them.

“Unfortunately, the circumstances, that we find ourselves in as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly during the lockdown period, is the perfect storm for those who find themselves in abusive relationships.”

Saoirse encourage people to visit their website for information on supports and learning the signs coercive and abusive behaviour.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop thanked the “many people” who have supported Saoirse by donating via www.saoirsewomensfefuge.ie  or on their Facebook Page.

“We continue to need support as the state funding we receive does not cover all our outgoings.

During August this year we dealt with 796 support calls on our helpline. Currently our intake refuge spaces are full.”

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