Sunday 25 October 2020

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Cork Independent


Women afraid to report abuse

Wednesday, 23rd September, 2020 3:03pm

A large number of domestic violence victims are not reporting their abuse to gardaí for reasons including a fear of their partner taking their children away from them.

This is despite gardaí having received more reports of domestic violence during the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions, where people were asked to stay at home more.

Caithríona O’Neill, a social worker with Cuanlee Refuge, told the Cork Independent that during this difficult year the refuge has seen a significant rise in the number of people seeking support due to domestic abuse.

She said: “From our experience here at Cuanlee, the gardaí have been exceptional over the last few months in how they have been responding to those experiencing domestic abuse. The gardaí have been very supportive of Cuanlee, working with staff to best support those who need it.

“While many report domestic abuse to gardaí, there is still a large number who do not report the crime,” said Ms O’Neill.

She continued: “The reasons for this vary. Some women have noted that they are too afraid of their partner to report it and fear their partner’s actions if gardaí are involved. Often partners have threatened violence or that they’ll ‘take the children’.”

Ms O’ Neill said that some women have noted that they didn’t report abuse as they have nowhere else to live.

In terms of emotional abuse and coercive control, some women have explained that they haven’t reported their experiences as they feel it won’t be taken seriously because it’s not physical abuse and they don’t have injuries to show.

“They fear that they won’t be believed when it’s their word against their partner,” Ms O’Neill said.

Calls to the refuge’s helpline doubled following the implementation of Covid-19 restrictions at Cuanlee, and while there was a minor dip in its helpline calls in June, they have since increased again to lockdown levels.

As for the type of abuse women are victims of in the home, Ms O’ Neill said: “Although women do disclose the nature of the abuse they have endured, we do not record this in our statistics. This is because many women will not disclose, or may not acknowledge, the full extent of the abuse they have experienced.

“Abuse takes many forms, each form is destructive. We therefore feel that drawing distinctions between such formats may be reductive.”

During Monday’s meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Fine Gael Cllr Shane O’Callaghan asked for figures and whether there was a rise in reports during the lockdown. Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said: “We have the number of incidents up to week 24 of 2020 which would be around the middle June which is when the first reopening of the country occurred. The figures indicate that there was a very small increase in the number of incidents. For the first 24 weeks of 2019 there were 494 incidents of domestic violence compared with 500 reports in the first 24 weeks of this year. I don’t have figures on whether they were assault or stalking but what I can say it that there was a lot of special attention paid to incidents of domestic violence as it was an area where we felt people were very vulnerable.”

The refuge offers services including crisis accommodation, a 24 hour helpline, child and adolescent services, outreach social work, domestic abuse workshops, court accompaniment and more.

Cuanlee’s 24 hour helpline is available on 021-4277698, or People can also contact Cuanlee on or through its social media sites.

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