Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.57 23 Feb 2021


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Domestic violence services say they are 'very concerned' about the latest lockdown of the country.

It comes as a new report shows at least 2,018 women and 550 children received support from a domestic violence service each month from September to December last year.

November was the busiest month of the four-month period, according to Safe Ireland's second Tracking the Shadow Pandemic – Lockdown 2 report.

When Ireland was at the height of its second level five lockdown, over 2,180 women and 602 children received support from a dedicated domestic violence service.

While more than 2,445 new women and 486 new children contacted a domestic violence service for the very first time in these four months.

This equates to 611 new women and 122 new children every month - or 20 new women and four children every day who had never contacted a service before.

Edel Hackett is communications manager with Safe Ireland.

She told Breakfast Briefing the situation could be exacerbated by the latest restrictions.

"Even in an extraordinary time of crisis, the numbers we are seeing is quite shocking".

She said this latest report has shown a further increase from the first lockdown report, which was published from March to August.

"This second one has shown an increase again on that first lockdown".

She said Safe Ireland members are "very concerned about this third lockdown".

"As we all know, this is a very difficult lockdown for everybody - but if you're living in a house with abuse it's particularly difficult.

"And because schools are closed as well, that makes it a little bit more difficult because there is no respite even or no escape."

But she said no lockdown can stop people leaving an unsafe situation.

"Our message to survivors remains really clear and steadfast: first of all, you don't have to stay in an oppressive household, and that there is professional support... in your community".

She added that they want to take action based on these reports.

"I suppose one of the positives about doing these reports in that we do know more about the prevalence and the patterns of domestic violence.

"So our message again, and the message as always, [is] there's no point in these reports sitting on a shelf - we have to use them to do something better, and to change the way we respond to survivors.

"Not just in lockdown, but as we move out of it and for forever".

An audit is underway on infrastructure for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

'Nine helpline calls every hour'

Helpline calls were also up on average over the second part of the year.

Domestic violence services answered 23,336 helpline calls over the period, an average of 191 calls a day.

This was up slightly from 184 calls a day in the first six months of the pandemic.

November was also the busiest month of the period, with 6,409 calls answered – or nearly nine calls every hour.

Schools and childcare facilities are set to start re-opening from early March, but other level five restrictions will remain in place until at least April 5th.

Childcare will also start to return from March 8th on a staggered basis, starting with those on the ECCE scheme.

It followed a meeting of the Cabinet COVID-19 Sub-committee on Monday, ahead of a full Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Domestic violence services 'very concerned' about latest lockdown

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact Safe Ireland on 1800-341-900 or access services here

Main image: Posed photo to illustrate domestic violence. Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/PA Images

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