Women’s Aid extends domestic abuse helpline to 24 hours

It is important to be available in the middle of the night after an attack, director says

Women’s Aid launches its Don’t be Afraid campaign . Pictured are TV£’s Elaine Crowley and Margaret Martin from Women’s Aid. The campaign encourages women living with domestic abuse to speak up and call the helpline on  1800 341 900. Photograph: PAul Sharp/Sharpix

Women’s Aid launches its Don’t be Afraid campaign . Pictured are TV£’s Elaine Crowley and Margaret Martin from Women’s Aid. The campaign encourages women living with domestic abuse to speak up and call the helpline on 1800 341 900. Photograph: PAul Sharp/Sharpix

 

Women’s Aid’s telephone helpline for women facing domestic abuse will offer a 24-hour, seven days a weeks service from next January.

“We know how important it is to be available for women whenever they need us,” says the organisation’s director, Margaret Martin.

“That might be in the early hours of the morning before the kids wake up, or the middle of the night after an attack by her partner. Or it might be just the right time for her to want to speak to someone,” she said.

From January 1st 2016 I am delighted that our service will become available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” director of Women’s Aid Margaret Martin said.

One in five women in Ireland is affected by abuse and over one-third of those will never speak to anyone about it, according to the charity. In 2014, the agency received 11,167 calls to the helpline.

Now, Women’s Aid is to run a two-week campaign, which has its own hashtag, #dontbeafraid, to encourage women living with domestic abuse to call the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900.

“We know that there is hope. We regularly hear from women who are now free from abuse, who feel good about themselves and have got their lives back.”

Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900

CASE STUDY

Siobhan’s story: one woman’s tale of domestic abuse

“The first sign that something wasn’t quite right was when Robert offered to start buying all my clothes. He said I wasn’t making the most of myself, and that he could help me look better. Naturally, I told him thanks, but no thanks. This only seemed to frustrate him.

Next he turned on my friends. He said I should spend all my time with him.

Then the flowers and compliments dried up, and a nasty side to his personality crept in. He’d laugh at my opinions, dismissing whatever I said as though I was stupid. He put my job down, saying that what I did was worthless, and eventually convinced me to leave work and stay at home.

He became more moody and unpredictable, flying into rages without provocation.

Then one day I called him in work about an overdue bill which had arrived. He was angry, saying it was none of my concern, then he just hung up the phone.

I’d almost forgotten by the time he came home, but when he walked in the front door he went ballistic. He shouted and roared at me, grabbed a long knife from the kitchen and completely destroyed the living room, slashing furniture and smashing ornaments. Then he locked the front door, pointed the knife at me and said: “You’re not going anywhere.”

That was probably the longest night of my life. But amazingly, not another word was ever spoken about it.

Then three months later, on my birthday, everything came to a head. The next day, while Robert was in work, I stared at a Women’s Aid card that a friend had given me a few months earlier and contemplated my life. I’d gone from being a strong, independent woman to this quivering wreck with no friends, no job, and no confidence. I felt so low that I’d actually spent most of the morning searching the house for pills for an overdose.

Fortunately I called Women’s Aid instead.

The woman on the end of the line just listened. And it all came pouring out.

I still think of that day as the day my life changed. After calling Women’s Aid I went straight upstairs, packed my things and left.”

All names have been changed.