Almost 800 people, including 301 children, received support from domestic violence services on one day last year, a new report shows.
The annual 'one day census' from Safe Ireland shows also that of this total, 120 women and 166 children were accommodated in refuges, on Tuesday, November 4th last year. Some 18 women were turned away from refuges as there was no space on the same day.
Over the 24 hours, 137 helpline calls were answered by domestic violence services throughout the State. The majority of the women, 290, were aged between 26 and 45 but 23 were over the age of 56 and eight were over the age of 65. Some 18 of the women were pregnant, while services accompanied 31 women to a GP or hospital.
Safe Ireland is an umbrella group representing over 40 domestic violence services across the State.
The organisation’s chief executive, Sharon O’Halloran, said the one day census provided a stark illustration of the extent to which domestic violence was an “every day event” for hundreds of women and children every day. It was a crime that continued to “risk lives, wreck families and poison futures”.
She said: "The devastating consequences of domestic violence, so horrifically witnessed in Omeath, Co Louth a week ago, could only be addressed when there was strong political leadership, a fundamental cultural shift and significant investment in prevention, training and services necessary to ensure people's safety."
Women and children must, she continued, have access to professional services, understanding and recognition of domestic violence as a serious crime.
This would require a minimum investment of €30 million a year, she said. It is estimated that domestic violence costs the economy €2.5 billion at a minimum through healthcare needs, lost days at work or legal fees,
“Without committed leadership across all government departments and agencies, without significant investment in services and training, and without a fundamental cultural shift in how we view domestic violence as the serious crime it is, it will continue to risk lives, wreck families and poison futures,” said Ms O’Halloran.
“All our notions of safety in community, safety at home and safety within the systems that are in place to protect us were shattered last week,” she continued. “The horrific and devastating consequences of domestic violence were exposed, resulting in the serious injury of a young woman and the death of a Garda who was trying to help her escape domestic terrorism.”
“If we are serious about righting the wrongs we mourned collectively there has to be investment in prevention, in training for professionals and in the services that women and children must be able to access to escape violence and tyranny,” she said. “At the moment, we are falling far short of what’s needed as a minimum and we are failing women, children, families and communities.”