A major campaign across TV, radio and social media aimed at reaching out to victims of domestic abuse has been launched.
The campaign - a collaboration between the Government and frontline services - will see adverts across those platforms to reflect the reality of domestic violence amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The campaign seeks to reassure victims of domestic abuse that services for them are still available, and that victims are being prioritised.
The ads - which aired on radio today, and television tomorrow - depict the reality for victims of domestic abuse when their home is no longer a safe place.
It comes after the Government last week said that the 2km coronavirus travel restriction does not apply to victims of abuse.
One of the radio ads depicts a mother trying to reassure her child that their effort to hide from their abuser is just a game of 'Hide and Seek', while the other features a male victim trying to communicate his plight to the emergency services.
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The TV ad will depict a woman’s attempt to keep in contact with her friend through a video call being interrupted by an abusive partner.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said it is vital that victims know that services are still there for them, and the law is on their side.
"The very place we have all been sent for safety because of Covid-19 – 'home' - is anything but safe for some people, and these ads recognise that," he said.
He added: "I also want to say, unequivocally, to all abusers that the rigors of the law are also 'still here'. There is nowhere for perpetrators to hide."
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Women's Aid CEO Sarah Benson said: "We know at the best of times that the vast majority of domestic violence and abuse do not reach out for services, so now more than ever in these really constrained circumstances, this campaign is an incredibly important initiative."
While Women's Aid has said calls to its helpline have remained steady at around 500 a week, it did see a spike in contacts following an appearance by Ms Benson and abuse survivor Jessica Bowes on the Late Late Show last Friday night.
In particular Ms Benson said they saw a surge in people using their Instant Messaging service.
"Unfortunately if you are stuck in a small space, in an apartment, in a house with somebody of whom you are afraid and who is also monitoring your activities being able to communicate silently can actually be an important way to reach out," Ms Benson said.
Caitriona Gleeson, Programme and Communications Manager for the umbrella group Safe Ireland, said that the inability of some victims to reach out to support services has been heightened during the pandemic and is contributing to an "ominous silence" that many of its members are seeing.
"Ordinarily when a woman is in a controlled relationship or an abusive relationship there will be opportunities for her to get free to make calls, to get to see the services, be it because she is working or because her abusive partner is working, or there are other opportunities to get to the shops or whatever," Ms Gleeson said.
It is for this reason that Ms Gleeson said this campaign plays an important role in raising awareness in the wider community.
"We want neighbours, friends and colleagues to understand that you have a role to play, where women don't have an opportunity to reach out themselves, you have an opportunity to reach in, you can be her voice." Ms Gleeson said.
The campaign also highlights that men can be victims of domestic abuse, featuring a story of a male abuse victim and providing the number of the Male Domestic Abuse helpline.
Sean Cooke, the CEO of Men's Development Network, said it is "critical that we make the service known that it's out there and that men can actually make the call and know that they will be listened to and heard and believed as well".
Safe Ireland has called for €1.6 million in funding to enable the sector to manage this crisis adequately.
Today the Department of Justice announced it was allocating over €160,000 to community and voluntary groups to support their work and is also funding the making and airing of the ad.
However Tusla has also a range of practical supports in place for service providers, including funding temporary replacement staff for those off work due to Covid-19, supplying PPE to those in the sector, providing information and communications technology (ICT) resources to support remote working, and working with service providers to identify accommodation for abuse victims when needed.
State Services are also prioritising the issue of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 emergency.
The Legal Aid Board has set up a dedicated helpline and is giving priority to domestic abuse cases. The Courts Service is also doing this with every District across the country continuing to have a Court open to hear applications for protection orders and interim and emergency barring orders.
On 1 April an Garda Síochána launched 'Operation Faoisimh’, describing it as "a proactive initiative ... designed to ensure victims of domestic abuse are supported and protected in this extraordinary time".
An Garda Síochána recorded a 16% year-on-year increase in the reporting of domestic abuse incidents between 2019 and 2020, however it said the force had not recorded a significant increase in such incidents since the introduction of Covid-19 public health measures to the start of the month.
No more up to date figures were available today.
An Garda Síochána - 999 or 112
Women's Aid - 1800 341 900
Men's Aid Ireland - 01 554 3811
Male Domestic Abuse Advice Line - 1800 816 588
Rape Crisis Centre National Helpline - 1800 77 8888
Legal Aid Board Helpline - 1890 615 200 or 01 646 9600
Directory of local services - www.safeireland.ie
Information on services and supports for victims is also available on a new website - www.stillhere.ie