Domestic violence is the threat of physical or sexual violence, or the actual use of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or digital abuse against family members and those who are involved in a close adult relationship.
Domestic abuse can include coercive control, which is recognised as an offence under the Domestic Violence Act 2018. Coercive control is a persistent pattern of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour that causes fear of violence or serious alarm and distress that has a significant impact on the victim’s day-to-day activities.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone; it is not confined to any specific cultural, social, or ethnic background or age group. Whilst the majority of victims are women, men can also be affected by domestic violence.
If you feel you are in danger, please contact the Gardaí on 999 or 112.
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Physical Abuse – Acts of a physical nature that harm you. Acts such as Punching, Kicking, Burning, Pushing, Choking, or biting would be considered physical harm. It can be extended to physical abuse with the use of weaponry also, weapons such as knives, or even using household items/objects as weapons like throwing crockery, phones, remote controls, or glassware.
Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse can be both physical and non-physical. Physical acts can include rape or attempted rape, Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity. Unwanted kissing or touching. The non-physical acts are much more expansive. For example, threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity, intimidation, or guilt for not performing sexual activity. Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone's use of birth control, sharing intimate images with others not intended for such use, making you watch or be involved in the making of pornography. Keeping someone from protecting themselves against sexually transmitted infections.
Financial Abuse – This is abuse that relates to controlling the financials in a relationship. Financial abuse often happens in physically abusive relationships. The abuser may take control of all of the household's income, withhold it, and conceal financial information from the victim. Examples can include directly denying you access to your bank account or joint accounts, interfering with your ability to earn a living (such as preventing you from attending work), refusing to partake in joint financial responsibilities such as not paying bills, mortgage and allowing arrears to build up. Finally, it can extend to withholding money for food or demanding you to account for the money you spent.
Digital Abuse – With the world's ever-evolving technology, domestic abuse can extend into the digital sphere. Digital abuse uses technology to intimidate, bully, harass or stalk an intimate partner. This behaviour is a form of emotional or verbal abuse perpetrated online. These include threatening/ insulting behaviour through text messages and online messages and harassing you through fake social accounts. Additionally, checking your internet history impedes your privacy, using technology to track your movements, demanding access to your online accounts.
For more information regarding Technology Facilitated Abuse see here
Psychological/Emotional Abuse – Psychological abuse takes the form of non-physical abuse, it is the intent to deprive you of a sense of yourself. A psychological abuser will often subject or expose the victim to behaviour that may result in psychological trauma. This may include chronic depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such acts have a negative influence on your daily life.
Coercive and Controlling Behaviour – A new offence under the recent Domestic Violence Act 2018 prohibits controlling and persistent behaviour. Coercive control is a pattern of emotional and psychological behaviours that enforce the abuser's rules on the victim through different levels of abuse and severity. This can be carried out through several different methods, including intimidation, threats, and humiliation. The acts committed seek to make you dependent on the abuser by isolating you from support or to escape while depriving you of the ability to gain independence or confidence to escape.
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There are a range of support services available to victims of domestic violence, including one-to-one support, drop-in, telephone, email and online services.
Women’s Aid provides a safe, confidential and non-judgemental support service to women experiencing domestic violence, including emotional or physical abuse. Concerned family members, friends or professionals may also contact the service. Following initial contact via the 24/7 freephone helpline (1800 341 900), women may be referred to the following services:
One to One Support Service
Court Accompaniment Service
Local Domestic Violence Refugees and Support Services
Other Relevant Agencies
Further information about the helpline service is available here, including information and advice on making the first call, available support, practical issues, and the Language Line facility if you are a non-English speaker. Information on the new Instant Messaging Support Service is also provided.
The One to One Support Service provides face to face support and information. Bookings can be made via the national freephone helpline. A free and confidential drop-in service is also available for women experiencing domestic abuse at Dolphin House Family Law Court.
Helpline: 1800 341 900
Text Service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing women available daily on 087 959 7980.
Online chat service available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7pm – 10pm at www.womensaid.ie
Safe Ireland is the national support service for domestic violence, providing free and confidential services to women. There are 38 domestic violence support services located across Ireland. Further information is available on the Safe Ireland website about support services for women experiencing domestic abuse, including domestic violence support services, refuge, the helpline, one-to-one support and court accompaniment.
If you need immediate support, please contact the National 24-hour Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 or the local 24-hour helplines, details of which are available here.
The 16 Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland provide crisis counselling and support services to male and female victims of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and childhood sexual abuse.
The 24-hour freephone helpline(1800 77 8888) provides a confidential support service to victims of sexual violence, including information, advice and telephone counselling.
If you require crisis support, including information, advice and telephone counselling, contact your local centre (details of which are available on RapeCrisisHelp.ie) or contact the 24-Hour Freephone Rape Crisis Helpline - 1800 77 88 88.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) provides crisis counselling and support services to male and female victims of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and childhood sexual abuse. DRCC can be contacted via the national helpline. Further information is available on the DRCC website: www.drcc.ie.
Sonas Refuge Dublin provides a 24/7 crisis refuge service for women experiencing domestic violence. Support is generally provided for up to 12 weeks, with an individualised support plan developed and accommodation provided in self-contained apartments. Additional supports are also available, including the Sonas Outreach programme.
Further information on the support services available can be found here.
Male perpetrators of domestic abuse are supported through a behaviour-change intervention programme, where they take responsibility for their harmful behaviour, develop new skills, and change both their attitude and behaviour. Female partners/ex-partners are also supported during and after the process.
The Bright Sky Ireland app is a free mobile app available on Google Play and Apple App Store. It is an app disguised as a weather app on the outside, but the contents hidden inside of the app, connects victims of domestic and sexual abuse to advice support services in Ireland. It also provides a journal to record incidents of abuse by text, video, voice recording or photography. It was developed in collaboration with An Garda Síochána, Women’s Aid and Vodafone.
OSS Cork is a one-stop shop that provides information and services to men and women on a wide range of issues including legal, financial, and housing. It is an inter-agency approach to the area of domestic violence and provides a free, confidential service that includes:
The service of the OSS is open to both men and women of all nationalities, sexual orientation, married/cohabiting couples, or single people and is offered through:
One to one sessions via appointment or walk-in
Telephone helpline (1800 497 497)
In terms of legal information, the OSS Cork can provide clients with factual information on available domestic violence remedies, and where and how to apply for them. However, while this information can be provided, the OSS does not provide legal advice and must, in such cases, refer clients to a solicitor.
Another invaluable service provided by OSS is accompaniment for victims to Garda stations, court proceedings, medical or GP offices etc. This is particularly vital for people or clients who may be experiencing intimidation, low self-esteem or language difficulties. Professional accompaniment can help clients to follow through with legal procedures, knowing they are not alone throughout proceedings.