A Dublin-based domestic abuse support service for women and children has reported that the organisation saw its total interventions for women amount to 43,848, an increase by 105 per cent in 2021.
The organisation’s interventions involved 8,869 for children, a significant increase of 324 per cent. These figures emerged from the 2021 Annual Report of Aoibhneas, which outlined the support offered to women and children affected by domestic abuse throughout 2021.
Last year, 36 per cent of women supported by Aoibhneas identified their perpetrator as a current spouse, partner or boyfriend and 46 per cent of women disclosed an ex-spouse, ex-partner or ex-boyfriend.
Ten per cent named a family member as an abuser, which, the organisation claims, represents an increasing trend of adult child to parent violence.
Aoibhneas has underscored that this is a feature of the housing crisis, as more adult children are remaining in or are returning to the family home. The organisation also notes a rise in cases of child to parent abuse,when an adult child is acting also as the parents’ caregiver.
Commenting on the results of the report, Emma Reidy, CEO of Aoibhneas, said: “Of particular concern to us is the disproportionate impact the cost of living and energy crisis is having on our most vulnerable clients, with already a notable increase in the number of families experiencing domestic abuse and identified in poverty and seeking immediate financial relief from us.
“As we prepare to launch our Five-Year Strategic Plan, we endeavour to work closely with the Department of Justice and Tusla, Child and Family Agency to deliver key prevention and intervention-based support to women and children victims of domestic abuse in line with the Third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual Gender Based Violence under the pillars Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Policy.”
The report highlighted the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which placed acute demand on services. However, the lifting of restrictions towards the end of February meant that the organisation was able to provide increased interventions to women and children in refuge and through its outreach and community support.
A staggering 85 per cent of clients reported experiencing physical abuse, with 49 clients presenting to the refuge with injuries. Many clients disclosed more than one type of abuse, such as financial abuse (70 per cent) and emotional abuse or coercive control (96 per cent).
A total of 366 women and children were provided with crisis accommodation, while the helpline, which moved freephone during the period, answered and worked through 9,878 calls, a 9 per cent increase on 2020.
The SIPTU Deputy General Secretary has condemned IBEC’S objection to the introduction of a specific category of paid leave for workers who are the victims of domestic violence.
Ethel Buckley said that she was sick to her stomach reading that the employers group believe there would be ‘potential abuse’ of paid leave for victims of domestic violence.
“This attitude towards people at a hugely vulnerable and potentially volatile time in their lives is deeply insulting and so out of touch with reality,” the Deputy General Secretary told the SIPTU Services Division Biennial Delegate Conference in Kilkenny last week, October 5.
“Well, hear us loud and clear IBEC. SIPTU stands with the victims of domestic violence. We trust these victims. We believe the workplace should be a safe space, a place where the stigma and the shame can be left at the door. Financial independence from abusers is the key to escaping and building a better life. Workers should not need to prove abuse to an employer,” she said.
“Domestic violence is suffered silently by many and is under-reported because victims fear negative social judgement. The legalisation that the Government has committed to introduce on paid leave for domestic abuse should not impose barriers for those who wish to regain control of their lives. For instance, there should be no requirements for proof which would discourage take-up of the entitlement.
“Furthermore, confidentially at the workplace should be assured so that victims know that they will be supported and treated sensitively if the come forward,” she add.