Survivors of domestic violence are being failed by a "deeply flawed and fragmented" criminal justice system, according to new report released by Women's Aid.
The support service reported that the majority of women did not feel safer nor that justice had been served in the disposal of their cases, with many saying they would not go through the process again.
The report, titled 'Unheard and Uncounted: Women, Domestic Abuse and the Irish Criminal Justice System', contains the findings of a year-long sentencing media watch of criminal proceedings.
It also features consultations with 20 women who were victims of criminal behaviour from their partners.
Sarah Benson, the CEO of Women’s Aid, said: "Women using our services tell us of their dissatisfaction with both the process and outcomes of criminal proceedings against perpetrators, often describing these as inadequate and merely ‘a slap on the wrist’."
She said offences committed in intimate relationships are "wide ranging and severe", and the report detailed 100 charges brought in 65 cases recorded over a year-long period.
While the data contains limitations, it could draw "tentative conclusions" about domestic violence charges in the absence of any official data in this area.
An analysis if the cases found that women were victims in all but two instances, with more than half of incidents taking place in their homes.
58% of perpetrators were current partners while 38% were ex-partners, and 41 victims were reported to have sustained physical injuries.
Children were present in the home during 21 incidents, including five children who were reported being injured
“The significant findings of this report should spur us all in to do something and to do it fast” — Women's Aid Ireland (@Womens_Aid) September 26, 2019
T.D. Regina Doherty, speaking this morning at the launch of Women’s Aid Unheard and Uncounted report. pic.twitter.com/oavqTwMmKc
“The significant findings of this report should spur us all in to do something and to do it fast”
— Women's Aid Ireland (@Womens_Aid) September 26, 2019
According to Women's Aid, the current legal system "fails to acknowledge the persistent, repetitive and long term experiences and impacts of abuse".
The service is calling for data collection relating to domestic violence.
Ms Benson said: "If we cannot see a problem then we cannot solve the problem.
"It is now time for a comprehensive overhaul of the system that is clearly not fit for purpose
"Ireland has been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole for too long.
"It’s time for the system to adapt to the crimes of domestic abusers and hold them to account rather than forcing victims to trust a system that is not doing them justice," she said.
There were 16,994 disclosures of domestic abuse to Women’s Aid Direct Services last year, while the Freephone Helpline answered 15,835 calls.
Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 / www.womensaid.ie