Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) said that the domestic violence figures released by Safe Ireland reveal with devastating clarity what is happening to women and children in homes across the country. The figures show that the number of women receiving support from domestic violence charities has more than doubled in the last five years.
“These are devastating figures, which paint a very bleak picture of the reality facing thousands of women and children in homes right across Ireland. Every day, domestic violence is ripping lives apart. Even for those women who get help for themselves and their children, there is a long term impact that can take years to reverse. Long after the physical scars have faded, victims of domestic abuse deal with emotional and developmental trauma that cannot be easily erased.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of women and children seeking help over the last five years. One can only presume that the pressure on families due to the economic crisis is having a significant impact. People can act completely out of character when faced with incredible stress; however there can never be an excuse for perpetrating physical or emotional abuse, regardless of the personal circumstances.
“The high level of phone calls received by support services, with many repeat callers, underlines the need for on-going support. It is a credit to the agencies involved that the number of women receiving face-to-face supports has increased by 68% since 2007.
“Breaking the silence is key to tackling domestic violence. We need to consider how we address this problem as a society. It cannot be simply attributed to a negative knock-on effect of our challenging economic situation; when the country was awash with money women and children were still being abused in their own homes. We should all ask ourselves; would I offer a neighbour who I believed to be at risk at helping hand, or would I turn a blind eye? This isn’t someone else’s problem, it is everyone’s problem.
“As a Government, we must strive to make choices that do not penalise those in need of support services. But as well as this, we must also reform the system. The new Child and Family Support Agency, which will be up and running in the New Year, will allow for intervention at an early stage to deal with issues like domestic violence. New models of delivery will also ensure full integration between State services and voluntary resources.
“Introducing a more transparent family court system, as flagged by the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD, will also help to lift the lid on domestic violence. We need to know what is happening in families in crisis if we are to bring about a change in how we tackle this problem. Victims of domestic violence must be given the courage to come forward, and the knowledge that they will be responded to with support and compassion.”