A new report published this morning exposes a system in Ireland that often regards domestic violence as a "nuisance" rather than a crime.
SAFE Ireland, which carried out the report, is calling on the Government to expand the legal definition of domestic abuse to ensure it is taken seriously.
Aisling Kenny reports
"I could still feel the punches to the back of my head as I was running up the road with my son in my arms..."
Jane suffered abuse at the hands of her husband for a number of years before seeking shelter in a refuge.
"The worst time he beat me was the last time he beat me. He had been out drinking and he came back, he was beating on the door, I wouldn't let him in and he started backing down going 'let me in it's ok' so I did, I foolishly opened the door," she says.
"I cannot remember how I got out that door and I let him in - he started choking me at the door. I cannot remember how I got out that door.
"I just remember running with my son - he was only two and a half at the time. He was in my arms and my daughter was screaming running up the road in the lashings of rain. We were in our bare feet we had no clothes," Jane continues.
"I could still feel the punches to the back of my head as I was running up the road with my son in my arms."
"He was saying I was looking fat and putting on weight...."
Jane says the violence began six months after they got married.
"I found out I was pregnant on my daughter and that's when the mental abuse started. He was saying I was looking fat and putting on weight. He was going out drinking more in the pub," she says.
Jane, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, says it was not long before her husband began to physically abuse her on a regular basis.
"The violence, it did increase again, we were out in a restaurant one night and were waiting and I was playfully messing and I put it down his back messing because we were having a laugh together.
"And he em... he pulled me by the hair and put my face into the corner of the table when we were out. Three other men stood up to try and stop him and he told them to come on - he would take them on too."
Jane is just one of thousands of women who experience domestic abuse in Ireland every year.
SAFE Ireland's report found that women are often not taken seriously when they make a complaint to gardaí about a domestic violence incident, or when barring or safety orders are breached.
"We are talking about crimes of rape, assault and battery that are not being taken into the criminal system..."
SAFE Ireland spokesperson Sharon O'Halloran, who describes the report as deeply distressing, says that, in many cases, women who are victims of domestic violence are silenced in court.
"What we've heard from women is that they are not being heard through the legal system. Guards are reluctant to take statements, legal professionals are telling women to be quiet when they get into court and judges are not hearing evidence either from women or other professionals," she says.
"So what we are seeing is that the system is fragmented, that the application of law is not consistent right across the board and therefore the outcome for women is not good.
SAFE Ireland says the report exposed a system that often regarded domestic violence as a nuisance rather than a crime.
It calls for the expansion of the legal definition of domestic abuse and for a specially integrated court, which is operated by professionals trained in the area of domestic violence.
Ms O'Halloran says in some cases crimes of rape, assault and battery are not being treated as a criminal offence and she says it is vital the report's recommendations are put in place.
"What we want is the legal profession to come together with us and talk about having a legal definition that has coercive control in it and then look at are there unintended consequences if we put this in place.
"What we're asking is for more dialogue around these issues. We are talking about crimes of rape, assault and battery that are not being taken into the criminal system so this has to be looked at and this has to be addressed," she says.
"The guards told me they couldn't be babysitters even though I lived so close..."
Mary's partner began to abuse her after the birth of her first baby.
She is one of those women who experienced difficulties when she approached gardaí.
"I had obtained an interim safety order and I was told that I would have to go home with that and ring the guards - I wasn't living too far from a garda station but the guards told me they couldn't be babysitters even though I lived so close.
"I'm not saying they ignored the complaint but in my personal opinion it takes them too long - they obviously don't take it serious enough," Mary says.
"One particular night he tried to kick the door in and strangle me while I was sleeping and my child beside me asleep in the cot."
"If you don't have a safety order the guards will tell you there is nothing they can do it's a domestic..."
Mary does not want us to use her real name and her voice has been disguised.
She says the court system failed her and she lived in fear of her partner for months:
"My ex-partner has never been put behind bars, he was put behind bars once for breaking a safety order, and while he was put behind bars but he was too cute for the system, he went into the High Court and got bail," she says.
"If you don't have a safety order the guards will tell you there is nothing they can do, it's a domestic.
"It takes an awful lot to get a safety order. I had a barring order at one stage and the barring order was running out and I went to Dolphin House and they told me they weren't going to deal with it that day because they were dealing with another issue."
For many women domestic abuse carries lifelong scars, and Jane says that the fear is something that she and her children will never forget.
"It's lifelong - the trauma. I'm in trauma counselling, I'm in counselling ten years because of what happened to me and my family. My children are in counselling, my eldest would have issues with OCD and control and fear," she says.
"With myself, the trauma, it's very difficult to trust again and it's very difficult to trust your own judgement too," Jane adds.
Listen to an audio version of Aisling's report here.