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Image / Editorial

Calls for domestic abuse victims not to be ‘abandoned and ignored’ during Covid-19 outbreak

by Erin Lindsay
25th Mar 2020

People affected by domestic abuse who have to stay at home during Covid-19 may be in danger of further incidents of violence

Charities such as Women’s Aid and Aoibhneas have called to attention the risk that self-isolation can put to women and children suffering from domestic abuse and violence.

Many refuges that assist those dealing with domestic abuse have had to close their doors on face-to-face consultations due to the outbreak, and are instead operating over the phone or online.

Since the beginning of the global pandemic, some of the worst affected areas have reported an increase in calls to refuges in relation to domestic violence. In the Chinese city of Jingzhou, which is located in the same province as Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, the number of reported domestic violence cases has reportedly tripled.

Irish refuges have called for measures to be put in place to ensure the same spike does not occur in Ireland during the Covid-19 outbreak. Women’s Aid took to Twitter last week to call attention to the issue, saying that their 24-hour helpline has already heard from women “at a heightened state of alert, trauma and anxiety because of the emergency.”

Women’s Aid mentioned that workplaces and schools often provide “sanctuaries” for those who live in abusive households, and that social distancing measures mean “there are women trapped inside with their abuser who is using this opportunity to further his control.”

Aoibhneas, a charity that supports women and children affected by domestic violence, has reported a “notable rise” in the number of calls seeking support and emergency accommodation since the outbreak began.

Where to get help

SAFE Ireland, an organisation combatting violence against women and children, has compiled a list of resources around the country that can help those suffering from domestic abuse, even during the Covid-19 outbreak. Many have had to update their services in accordance with government measures, but still offer support over the phone and via email.

Women’s Aid has extended its hours for its Instant Messaging service, with volunteers now available any time you see the ‘Talk to the Helpline’ symbol on their website.

Their phone helpline is still operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1800 341 900.

Offaly Domestic Violence Support Service has added an additional helpline service to reach as many people as possible during the pandemic. They are available to call on 0860419154 or 0579351886, from 9 am to 6 pm, seven days a week.

If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the emergency services on 112.

Read more: Coercive control: 10 warning signs and where to go for help

Read more: Private hospitals will be made public for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak

Read more: This new campaign is highlighting how financial abuse affects women in Ireland