The national domestic abuse service, Women's Aid, has called for the extension of draft legislation to protect young women in dating relationships.

Its Impact Report shows that the organisation dealt with more than 22,000 reports of domestic abuse against women and children in 2015.

Almost 2,000 threats of violence, including death threats, were made against women by partners or former partners.

The service said current legislation needs to catch up with the changing nature of domestic abuse.

Women's Aid Director Margaret Martin said while there is a draft bill the service wants to see that extended to cover couples "that are in a dating relationship because they tend to be younger".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Martin said: "If you've got into a situation where you have bought a property, you're signed up to a lease, or you have a child, it's much more difficult to get out of an abusive relationship.

"So we'd like continually to keep the focus on those earlier stages in relationships."

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One news Mr Martin said a man's controlling behaviour  can initially seem very flattering, especially for younger women. 

She said the abuse can be perceived by some women as something temporary; something that is going to change, and that it can take some time for a woman to realise that she needs to leave the relationship.

In its report, Women’s Aid said that 12,041 contacts were made to its National Freephone Helpline and Dublin-based one-to-one support services in 2015.

There were 16,375 disclosures of domestic abuse against women and 5,966 disclosures of abuse of children during those contacts.

Women spoke of being kept prisoner in their homes, of being cut with knives, stabbed, spat on, punched and choked and many women said they were beaten during pregnancy.

Verbal abuse and harassment, both verbal and online, was also reported.

The service said over the course of 20 years of data on female homicides, 211 women were murdered and 55% of those were killed by their partner or ex-partner.

The data showed that 46% of homicides were committed without the use of weapons, with strangulation the cause in 26% of deaths.