Reports of domestic abuse in Cork are up since last year and it may be down to the courage of the victims.

More victims come forward

An increase in successful prosecutions could be the reason for a rise in the reporting of domestic violence in Cork, a top ranking garda has said.

New figures show that domestic abuse reports in Cork in the first three months of 2022 have increased significantly compared to the same period of last year.

According to figures provided by Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan at a Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting on Monday, reports of domestic abuse so far in 2022 are up 27 per cent in Cork city compared to the same period of January-April 2021. Cork North was up one per cent and Cork West recorded a ten per cent increase in those coming forward to report abuse in the home.

Chief Superintendent Cadogan acknowledged the increase and said support groups and other initiatives across the county have encouraged victims to come forward. “It certainly has increased. I don’t want to be playing the old drum of the Divisional Protective Services Units but certainly they have made a significant change in how domestic crime is investigated.”

He added there have been a number of successful domestic violence cases before the courts over the past 12 months which have also encouraged victims to come forward.

Chief Superintendent Cadogan also said at the JPC meeting: “We encourage people that they have nothing to fear and to come forward. They will be treated very discretely, professionally, and with great empathy.”

Fianna Fáil Cllr Gearoid Murphy said he found the statistics “very worrying” and following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, he expected the numbers would go in the opposite direction.

“There was a lot of comment that the lockdown was going to increase domestic violence, but it seems to also now be increasing afterwards,” said Cllr Murphy.

Increased demand in West Cork

Marie Mulholland, Project Coordinator at West Cork Women Against Violence said the demand on the service is mounting every year.

She said she believes the increased numbers may largely be down to the work being done by support services in the county.

She explained at the JPC meeting: “I think it’s about the publicity that domestic violence is being given. I think more women are coming forward.

“Those relationships of trust are definitely having an impact on victims coming forward and pursuing things like safety orders, protection orders and barring orders,” said Ms Mulholland.

She said her own organisation’s domestic violence statistics are increasing and that by the end of 2022, she expects West Cork Women Against Violence to have 300 clients.

To help accommodate this surge in victims coming forward, West Cork Women Against Violence has recently purchased a safehouse which will be used to give families fleeing domestic violence a place of safety, shelter and support.

The purchase was made possible by a private donor who gave €400,000.

It is expected that remaining funding from the €400,000 donation will be used to acquire further supports, possibly a second smaller property to also provide a safe space.

Ms Mulholland said: “It’s not just about the safehouse, but it’s also about helping to advocate with housing departments and with the landlords about trying to find safe, alternative accommodation.”

According to Ms Mulholland there were 48,400 callouts on domestic abuse in Ireland last year and the only way to tackle the issue is for different agencies and services to work together.

“I think that’s the only way we can respond and anything else is just sticking a plaster on the issue,” Ms Mulholland concluded.

West Cork Women Against Violence offers free and confidential listening, information and support services for women experiencing domestic violence.

Its freephone helpline is 1800-203136. The service’s new address is Block 1, The Warner Centre, Barrack Street, Bantry.

Other support services in Cork include Cuanlee Refuge at 021-427769, Edel House at 021-4274240. Mná Feasa at 021-4211757 or OSS Cork at 1800-497 497.