Yesterday (June 15th), Women’s Aid published their Annual Statistics for 2010 which revealed that social networking sites such as Facebook are playing an increasing role in facilitating the abuse of women.
Between January 1st and December 31st 2010 the organisation dealt with 13,575 disclosures of abuse and 10,055 calls to its National Freephone Helpline. The organisation also found that social networking sites are being manipulated by abusers to intimidate victims. Women have disclosed abuse such as their mobile phone calls and texts being monitored and social media and technology being used to stalk and control them.
Speaking at the launch, the organisation’s director Margaret Martin emphasised the extent to which young women are at risk of violence. "There is a common misconception that violence and abuse only occurs in older and more established relationships, where women are married or living with, and/or have children with their abusive partner”, she said. “Our experience and national and international research shows that young women are also at risk from violence and abuse from their boyfriends. In a national survey on domestic violence, almost 60% of those who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships first experienced it when they were under the age of 25. More chilling data from resolved homicide cases show that of the 39 women aged between 18 and 25 years who were killed since 1996, 53% were murdered by a boyfriend or former boyfriend”. This growing trend prompted Women’s Aid to develop the 2in2u National Public Awareness Campaign which highlights the issue of violence and abuse against young women in dating relationships.
The extent of domestic violence in Ireland is evidenced by the fact that one in five Irish women who have ever been in a relationship experience physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and one third of these never tell anyone about the abuse they suffer.
Some of the tactics of abuse disclosed by callers during the course of 2010 included women being gagged to stop screams during physical assaults, women being beaten and raped while pregnant or soon after delivery or miscarriage, and women not being given money to buy essentials for themselves and the children, including food and medication.
Ms Martin also drew attention to the gaps in legal protection from domestic violence whereby women suffering abuse from non-married partners in 2010 were not eligible to apply for protection under the Domestic Violence Act 1996. During 2010, 13% of callers disclosed abuse by current non-married partners. “Many of these women will find themselves unable to access Domestic Violence Orders, for example, if they never lived with their partner, even if they have a child in common”, she said. “In addition, 10% of callers experienced abuse from a former non-married partner. Again, this is a group of women whose safety needs are not being met as they are often ineligible to apply for protection under the Domestic Violence Act 1996”.*
*UPDATE: August 5th 2011 – The situation has improved following the enactment of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 which extended long campaigned for protection from domestic violence to parents with a child in common regardless of cohabitation. Furthermore, cohabiting partners can now apply for Safety Orders without any specific duration of cohabitation required and same sex cohabitants are now eligible for orders under the Domestic Violence Act in the same way as opposite sex cohabitants
Click here to read the report in full.
For more information:
The Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline number is 1800 341 900. The service operates from 10am to 10pm seven days a week.
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