Mayo Women’s Support Services has presented shocking statistics which show that domestic violence across Ireland and in Mayo is a daily threat for women of all ages and at all life stages.
On just one day in Ireland - November 6, 2012 - 537 women and 311 children were accommodated and/or received support from a domestic violence service, Mayo Women’s Support Services revealed after the publication of the SAFE Ireland national, annual, one-day census.
Mayo Women’s Support Services is a member of SAFE Ireland, which is the national network of frontline domestic violence services. Mayo Women’s Support Services is one of the 37 services which fed into the collation of this valuable 24-hour snapshot of the magnitude of violence against women and the daily supports being provided by frontline domestic violence services like Mayo Women’s Support Services.
Among the women looking for safety on that one day, there were 22 pregnant women, a finding that Mayo Women’s Support Services says is particularly alarming, but which highlights that women suffer lifetimes of abuse.
The census also shows that 40 women accessing domestic violence services on that day were over the age of 56, with 14 over the age of 65. The majority – 346 women – were aged between 26 and 45, with 64 young women aged between 16 and 25 also looking for support. A total of 117 women and 152 children were accommodated in refuge and 21 women could not be accommodated because there was not enough space.
“Sadly pregnancy offers no protection from domestic violence,” said Josephine McGourty, manager of Mayo Women’s Support Services. “Our services regularly work with women who are beaten and raped during pregnancy, often resulting in miscarriage. And still we, as a country and as a society, don’t take this seriously.”
She said that the State and society must recognise domestic violence as the life-threatening crime it is. Too often, the State response to women in critical areas like justice, housing, or health is “nothing short of appalling, often leaving women disbelieved, frustrated and with no choice but to remain in unsafe homes,” she said.
Ms McGourty stressed that domestic violence is a crime that is not taken seriously.
“For the 537 women accessing our services on that one day there were at least 537 men living in our communities who were raping, beating, bullying, intimidating, and abusing women,” Ms McGourty continued. “This is not just couples ‘having a domestic’. This is a crime that injures, scars, kills, intimidates, controls. This is deadly serious and must be taken seriously.”
International research has found that 25 per cent of women who experience domestic violence are abused for the first time when they become pregnant. The Rotunda Hospital conducted research in 2000 which found that one in eight women in Ireland surveyed were being abused during their current pregnancy.
The 2012 census was SAFE Ireland’s fifth one-day census. It took place on the same day as the 2012 US presidential election when Barack Obama was re-elected.