About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Women's Aid - International Day Against Violence

Monday, 26 November 2007

The 16 days Days of Action opposing violence against women is an international campaign initiated by the centre for women's Global Leadership ( CWGL) in 1991.
The 16 days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

National statistics on violence
 . In 2006, the Women's Aid National Helpline responded to 11,994 calls. 60% calls related to emotional abuse and 25% to physical abuse.  10% of calls related to financial abuse and 5% of calls related to sexual abuse. (Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline and Support Services Statistics 2006 Statistics.)

. In 2006, the Women's Aid One to One Support Service provided 349 one to one support visits, accommodated 135 court accompaniments and gave further telephone support to women on 735 occasions throughout the year. (Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline and Support Services Statistics 2006 Statistics.)

. There have  been  138  females  murdered  in Ireland  since the  beginning of 1996.  87(63%) of these females were killed in their own homes.  Where the case is resolved 48% were murdered by a partner or ex-partner.  (Women's Aid Female Homicide Media Watch, October 2007)

. National Research commissioned by Women's Aid has shown that 18% (1 in 5) of Irish women surveyed who have been involved in intimate relationships with men, have been abused by a current or former partner. (Making the Links, 1995)

. National Research by the National Crime Council found that 1 in 7 women have experienced  severe  abusive  behaviour  of  a  physical,  sexual  or  emotional nature from a partner at some times in their lives.  The survey estimates that 213,000 women in Ireland have been severely abused by a partner.  (Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland:  Report on the National Study of Domestic Abuse, National Crime Council and ERSI, 2005).

.  4 out of 10 women who had been involved in sexual relationship with a man experience violence (`Reported frequency of domestic violence; cross sectional survey of women attending general practice', Bradley, Fiona et al.  2002)

. A study conducted by the Rotunda Maternity Hospital found that in a sample of 400 pregnant women, 12.5% (1 in 8) had experienced abuse while they were pregnant. (O'Donnell S, Fitzpatrick John M, Mc Kenna PF, Abuse in Pregnancy ­The Experience of Women, Nov 2000, Vol 98, No. 8)

. In response to a consultation by Women's Aid, one women's refuge reported being unable to accommodate 303 women and over 300 children  between January  and  October  2006. (Election 2007- Putting Domestic Violence On The Agenda, December 2006).

. In 2004 the 3 refuges in the Eastern Region refused more than twice as many women as they accommodated. 1,144 women were refused refuge as the refuge was full.  (Health Service Executive, response to Parliamentary Question, 2006).

Helpline Stats
. The figures for 2006 also show that new callers continue to access the service with up to 48% of calls coming from first time contacts.  A third of calls came from the Greater Dublin Area and 98% of callers to the Helpline were female.
. Announcement Thursday 11th October, Women's Aid  announced details of calls to its Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline and its support services in 2006. There was a 29% increase in specific incidents of child abuse, where the perpetrator was directly abusing the children of the relationship, as well as the mother.
. Tactics reported to the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline included abuser urinating on child, child kicked in stomach, children being beaten, being exposed to mother being raped.
. 5% of cases of child abuse were reported during access visits and 20% of abusers were ex-partners or ex-husbands. In these cases, the abuse was continuing despite the steps already taken by women (separation, protective orders) to protect both themselves and their children.
. Almost half of the abuse disclosed took place in a current relationship, with marriage remaining the most common context for abuse with 31% of calls disclosing the husband as the perpetrator of abuse. One fifth of abuse (20%) was perpetrated by ex-husbands or ex-partners.

The Women's Aid Helpline is open from 10am - 10 pm, 7 days a week 1800 341 900

The most important thing anyone can do to help women in this situation-Advice for friends and neighbours who may feel something is wrong.

Unless you are trying to help someone who has been very open about her experiences it may be difficult for you to acknowledge the problem directly. However, there are some basic steps that you can take to assist and give support to a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour or anyone you know who confides in you that they are experiencing domestic abuse.

1. Listen to her, try to understand and take care not to blame her. Tell her that she is not alone and that there are many women like her in the same situation. Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse. Give her time to talk, but don't push her to go into too much detail if she doesn't want to.
2. Acknowledge that she is in a frightening and very difficult situation.
3. Tell her that no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what her abuser has told her. Nothing she can do or say can justify the abuser's behaviour.
4. Support her as a friend. Encourage her to express her feelings, whatever they are. Allow her to make her own decisions.
5. Don't tell her to leave the relationship if she is not ready to do this. This is her decision.
6. Ask if she has suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with her to a hospital or to see her GP.
7. Help her to report the assault to the police if she chooses to do so.
8. Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help to abused women and their children. Explore the available options with her. Tell her about the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900
9. Go with her to visit a solicitor if she is ready to take this step.
10. Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship. Let her create her own boundaries of what she thinks is safe and what is not safe; don't urge her to follow any strategies that she expresses doubt about.
11. Offer your friend the use of your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell her you will look after an emergency bag for her, if she wants this.
Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Ensure that you do not put yourself into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend or let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.

One of the frequent questions Women's Aid is asked is - why doesn't she just leave?
Women's Aid would never tell a woman what she should do.  We consider her to be the best judge of her situation.

Whilst the risk of staying may be very high, simply leaving the relationship does not guarantee that the violence will stop. In fact, the period during which a woman is planning or making her exit, is often the most dangerous time for her and her children.

Many women are frightened of the abuser, and with good reason. It's common for perpetrators to threaten to harm or even kill their partners or children if she leaves.

Reasons why a woman may not be ready to leave:
She may still care for her partner and hope that they will change (many women don't necessarily want to leave the relationship; they just want the violence to stop). 
1. She may feel ashamed about what has happened or believe that it is her fault. 
2. She may be scared of the future (where she will go, what she will do for money, whether she will have to hide forever and what will happen to the children). 
3. She may feel too exhausted or unsure to make any decisions. 
4. She may be isolated from family or friends or be prevented from leaving the home or reaching out for help. 
5. She may have low self-esteem as a result of the abuse. 
6. She may believe that it is better to stay for the sake of the children (eg wanting a father for her children and/or wishing to prevent the stigma associated with being a single parent). 
7. Women and children need to know that they will be taken seriously and that their rights will be enforced. They need to have accessible options and be supported to make safe changes for themselves and their children. Resources and support they will need to leave safely include: money, housing, help with moving, transport, ongoing protection from the police, legal support to protect her and the children, a guaranteed income and emotional support. If a woman is not sure if these are available to her, this may also prevent her from leaving.
8. Women may also seek support from family or friends and the quality of the support they receive is likely to have a significant influence on their decision-making. Sometimes women will make several attempts to leave before they actually leave permanently and safely. Regardless of her decision, it is important that the support a woman receives enables her to increase her and her children's safety regardless of the choices she makes about her relationship to the abuser. 
9. It also is vitally important that women are also supported whilst living with an abuser. If she feels that she will be excluded from ongoing support if she does not leave, she is unlikely to seek help from the same person or organisation again.

Women's Aid Mission Statement
Women's Aid is a feminist, political and campaigning organisation committed to the elimination of violence and abuse of women through effecting political, cultural and social change.
Women's Aid provides direct support services to women experiencing male violence and abuse. This work underpins and informs all other goals and actions of the organisation

For more Information please go to