Results show a stark reminder of challenge of domestic violence

By Aideen O'Flaherty

NEW research has found that 20 per cent of women and 6 per cent of men have been in a relationship where they felt vulnerable to, or experienced, domestic abuse or coercive control, while the CEO of the Tallaght-based Saoirse Women’s Refuge added there is “no stereotypical victim” of domestic violence.

Research was carried out by Amárach on behalf of Saoirse Women’s Refuge last week, where it was found that issues with coercive control and domestic violence are having a similar impact across all demographics, including different age, regional and socio-economic groupings.

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Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, (right) Acting CEO of Saoirse with Mayor Vicki Casserly at last year’s chamber awards

Speaking in light of the findings, Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Saoirse, said: “These results provide a stark reminder of the prevalence and challenge of domestic violence and coercive control across all components of Irish society.

“There is no stereotypical victim. The Covid-19 restrictions on movement have brought the issue to the forefront of people’s minds, however, the challenge for society will be that it doesn’t slip down the agenda once the crisis recedes.”

In the wake of the implementation of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, a number of frontline organisations collaborated with the Department of Justice and Equality to develop and publicise the Still Here campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to make sure victims of domestic violence are aware of resources that are available to them, and how they can access services to assist them during the pandemic and to remind them that key services are still here and operating.

However, when research respondents were asked whether they were aware of the campaign which has been publicised via radio and television, 85 per cent said they had seen it, but a quarter of those who had not seen it were aged under 35.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop added: “I very much welcome the Still Here campaign and it is very positive to see the extremely high awareness of it amongst the public.

“It is worth noting, however, that there is a difference between the younger age group and other demographics which may need to be addressed via digital media and social media channels.”

When it came to turning to someone for help if they’re experiencing domestic violence, 48 per cent of respondents said they would turn to their families, but nine per cent of respondents said they believed that they had no one they could turn to.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop said: “It is essential that all victims know that there is always someone who can help, and particularly that gardai, courts and service providers are all still here during the pandemic.

“It is also important, however, that the rest of the population know how to look out for signs of violence.

“Bear in mind that 67 per cent of respondents had not come across a case of domestic abuse or coercive control and so may never have had to think about the issue.

“It is important we all make sure our friends and family know we are there for them if they ever need us.”

The Saoirse Women’s Refuge’s 24-hour helpline is available on 01 463 0000.

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