General News / June 18, 2024

Record Levels of Domestic Abuse Recorded in Ireland

General News / June 18, 2024

Record Levels of Domestic Abuse Recorded in Ireland

Text: Izzy Copestake

1 in 4 women in Ireland have experienced abuse by a current or former intimate male partner.

Reports of physical and economic domestic abuse have reached a record high in Ireland. Women’s Aid, a feminist organisation which has been working to prevent and address the impact of domestic violence and abuse, has reported receiving its highest ever number of domestic abuse reports in its 50-year history last year.

The figures, released today, show 40,048 disclosures to Women’s Aid via their helpline, and 28,638 face-to-face contacts with its regional services last year. These numbers are up 18% from 2022, and are the highest figures on record. The statistics are alarming, but Chief Executive of Women’s Aid Sarah Benson warns that “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

One in four women in Ireland are subjected to domestic abuse by a current or former intimate male partner. “The nightmare of violence and abuse most commonly will be at the hands of a current or former intimate male partner,” says Sarah Benson.

What Can Emotional Abuse Look Like?

— Name calling and verbal abuse.
— Isolation from family and friends.
— Possessiveness, jealousy, and accusations of cheating.
— Stalking and being monitored both physically and online.
— Living with the threat of physical and/or sexual violence.
— Being forbidden to leave the home without the abuser.
— Having the abuser threaten to hurt or kill her, themselves, their children or her family or her friends.
— Abuser denying or minimising the abuse shortly after it happened (Gaslighting).
— Abusers targeting the mother-child bond by manipulating and encouraging the children to join in on the abuse of their mother.

What Can Physical Abuse Look Like?

— Assault, including with an object
— Strangulation.
— Pushing and shoving.
— Harm with knives including cutting and stabbing.
— Punching and slapping.
— Inflicting physical injuries including: broken bones, having hair pulled out, teeth broken.

What Can Economic Abuse Look Like?

— Abuser denying access to household income to pay for food, medication and other necessities for themselves and the children.
— Abuser pressurising them into giving them large sums of money or getting them into debt.
— Abuser jeopardising women’s access to employment.
— Abuser controlling women’s income.
— Abuser refusing to pay maintenance for any children in common or only paying sporadically. Often, abusers use child maintenance payments as a means to control and coerce their ex-partners

What Can Sexual Abuse Look Like?

— Rape and sexual assault.
— Coerced sexual activity.
— Unwanted sexual advances.
— Being spoken to, or about, in a sexually derogative way.
— Abuser forcing them to watch and re-enact pornography.

According to the report, many victims are hesitant to speak out and get help due to fear, stigma and self-blame. According to the report, most women reported multiple different forms of abuse at the same time, consituting coersive control, which is a criminal offence in Ireland.

What Constitutes Coercive Control?

A persistent pattern of controlling behaviours, carried out by a romantic partner which makes it nearly impossible to leave the relationship. Warning signs of this include any of the above abusive behaviours, as well as:

  • Becoming withdrawn from friends and family
  • He monitors your online activity
  • He attempts to control who you can see and what you can wear
  • He stops / discourages you from seeking medical support
  • He repeatedly tries to put you down and tell you you’re worthless
  • He controls your finances 
  • Threatens to publish private videos or photos of you online

24 Hour Free Helpline: 1800 341 900

Visit their website to see how to spot the signs, learn more about different types of abuse, and get the support you need.