Over 3,000 requests for refuge from domestic violence refused in 2018

Safe Ireland says women refused refuge as services were full; support system ‘creaking’

Around nine requests a day for refuge from domestic violence were refused last year because the services were full, according to Safe Ireland.

The national agency, which works towards ending domestic violence, said services were unable to provide accommodation for 3,256 requests in 2018.

Safe Ireland has presented its annual statistics which show that 10,782 women and 2,572 children received support from a domestic violence support service last year.

In addition, 53,627 helpline calls were answered by domestic violence support services, an average of 147 calls every day. This included 19,000 calls to the national helpline, operated by Women’s Aid with over 34,000 calls being responded to by services throughout the country.


Sharon O’Halloran, chief executive of Safe Ireland said the numbers of women and children looking for safety continue to be “shocking” and that dealing with the unreported prevalence of domestic abuse and coercive control is “an enormous concern”.

Research shows that just 8 per cent of women who experience coercive control and domestic abuse currently look for support from a domestic violence service, she said.

Ms O’Halloran said that the Government is continuing to “starve” services of funding and resources needed with no additional funds for the domestic violence sector in Budget 2020.

“Recycled budget announcements and grand statements of commitment will do very little for the women and children coming to our services every day,” Ms O’Halloran said.

“They will do even less for the women and children who have not come forward yet and who continue to live in homes of terror. We have a network of domestic violence support services that is fragile and creaking.

“The only reason it continues to provide the expert supports it does is because it is staffed by dedicated and extraordinary professionals who are hard-wired to help. But hard-wired to help is no longer enough when we are dealing with an epidemic of domestic abuse and coercive control.”

Ms O’Halloran said during the last recession funding to domestic violence services was “significantly cut” despite a demand for services and an increase in the need for responses to “more complex cases”.

“The infrastructure has never fully recovered and has never been properly resourced to recover from eight years of austerity,” she added.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times