LWL specialists accompanied around 200 women to court
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently described domestic violence as a global ‘epidemic’ and ‘it needs to be stopped’.
Six women were killed violently in domestic incidents during 2019 in Ireland and figures published recently showed that gardaí received 2,568 reports of domestic violence in December 2018, compared to an average of 2,000 domestic abuse reports per month during the summer.
Orla O’Connor, director at the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), said the data highlighted that the scale of our response to domestic violence has to increase.
In an interview, published in the Irish Times, she said, “We need to increase our refuge spaces. We clearly don’t have an adequate number of spaces. We shouldn’t have to have waiting lists and women shouldn’t have to travel to different counties to get help.”
Prior to Christmas, the heartbreaking death of Arklow mum Nadine Lott following the serious injuries she sustained in an alleged assault shocked the nation.
And in November, Cavan Circuit Court heard harrowing evidence how a man, who admitted to feeling like a ‘scumbag’, kicked and stamped on his pregnant girlfriend's head 17 times in an unprovoked drink-fuelled attack, leaving her with lasting brain damage.
Longford Women’s Link (LWL) has been in operation since 1995 and they have been supporting victims of domestic violence (DV) since its inception.
They have supported thousands of women and the DV service comprises two full time staff, two part time staff and one full time coordinator.
Domestic Violence Specialist with LWL, Moe Reynolds explained, “We are busier than we have ever been. Last year, we developed a dedicated service to children who are the victims of DV. In 2018 we supported eight children directly, and in 2019 (up to November) we have supported 20 children.”
In terms of 2019, the LWL Domestic Violence Service supported 358 individual women, an increase of 5% from 2018.
Specialists from the service accompanied around 200 women to court that same year, for a variety of reasons, including protection, safety, and barring orders, criminal assault cases, breaches of bail conditions related to domestic violence, and issues regarding access, custody and maintenance.
Ms Reynolds said there was also an increase in the number of ‘complex cases’.
“These cases are high risk and intensive, invariably involving serious risk to children as well as to their mothers. For instance, in 2018, seven women had 100 or more interactions with Longford Women’s Link.”
She pointed out that LWL are working closely with the gardaí to recognise these high support cases, and to put in place a comprehensive safety plan involving a multitude of services.
“This is particularly relevant in light of a growing concern and understanding of femicide, and how most women are killed by a partner or ex-partner, or other member of their family.”
Ms Reynolds said ‘surprisingly, Christmas is not our busiest time’. She says women really ‘put their heads down’ and just try to get through the holiday season, especially to make it easier on their kids.
Post Christmas the scenario is entirely different.
“Our busiest times tend to be after Christmas,” she revealed, adding “towards the end of January when many women have survived the holiday season, but can’t face into a new year suffering the same abuse, unpredictability and torture that surely marred their holiday season.”
Ms Reynolds said another busy time is at the end of September, once the children have settled back in school. “This sometimes gives the space for women to start making plans to move, or at least space to start thinking about what is happening to them and reach out for help.”
If you need help or advice for yourself or someone you know, please call;
* Longford Women’s Link Domestic Violence Service 043 33 41511
* Women’s Aid freephone 24 hour helpline 1800 341 900
* Gardaí 999