Double nightmare of domestic violence and drug use affecting 11,000 women in Ireland

More than 11,000 women in Ireland experienced domestic violence while struggling with drug use in Ireland in 2020, new research published today shows.

The findings of the DAVINA project, led by Trinity College, are the first estimate of the hidden prevalence of women experiencing both domestic violence and drug use in Ireland.

The research was conducted by Professor Catherine Comiskey and her team at Trinity School of Nursing and Midwifery.

She said: “Women who endure violence in their homes and use substances are not seen and their needs are unknown.

“They are forced to experience a duality of secrecy to protect themselves and their children.

“This study provides the first minimum estimate of national prevalence and provides evidence for the need for accessible, targeted, and specific interventions.”

DAVINA is the only project of its kind in Ireland and was set up within the SAOL project in response to the increased need for domestic violence support from the women who use their services.

Other findings showed:

• At least 48,000 women who used substances in 2020 had experienced some form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse in their lifetime.

• They were more likely to be affected by homelessness and poverty and had traumatic life experiences, which in turn can lead to psychological problems, shame and stigma, making access to support more difficult.

Meanwhile, GPs have been issued with new guidelines on how to identify patients who may be victims of domestic violence.

The guidelines were drafted by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

ICGP Director of Women’s Health, Dr. Nóirín O’Herlihy, said: “It is not always easy for general practitioners to determine whether a patient is at risk of domestic violence and abuse. It can be difficult for patients to disclose.


Attorney General Helen McEntee

“It is important for GPs to be confident in asking patients about the possibility of domestic violence and abuse when it is safe to do so. General practitioners are more likely to ask in high-risk situations, such as during pregnancy.

“People who experience domestic violence often have regular contact with their GP and identify doctors and nurses as professionals they would like support from.

“It is vital that healthcare professionals such as GPs and their practice teams are aware of and ask about domestic violence.”

Praising the new GP guide, Justice Secretary Helen McEntee said: “I know Irish doctors take great care every day to help women, men and families who have experienced domestic violence.

“Ensuring that the best possible support is available to victims is a work area that I and my colleagues in government have identified as a priority.

“I very much appreciate that this guide will enhance the support already provided by GPs to victims and ensure that appropriate referrals, ongoing support and follow-up are provided consistently, thereby equipping patients/victims with the right information and resources.

“The Government has prioritized tackling domestic violence in all its forms and making people, especially women and those at risk, feel safe and secure in our communities.

“I am currently leading work on a new state-of-the-art strategy to combat domestic, sexual and gender-based violence that will set the overall goal of zero tolerance for domestic violence in our society.

“This new plan will place a special focus on prevention and ensure victims are better supported, and initiatives like this guide help with both.” Double nightmare of domestic violence and drug use affecting 11,000 women in Ireland

Fry Electronics Team

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