Women are increasingly suffering from domestic violence, with the use of firearms, swords and knives, a lawyer for the victims said.
This troubling issue was raised by Anne Clarke, CEO of the Offaly Domestic Violence Support Service (ODVS), which has been in operation for 25 years.
“There is a high level of physical violence,” Ms Clarke said Irish Independent. “Women’s lives are threatened. Weapons – including knives, swords and
Weapons – are used.
“Every day I think to myself, ‘How did we avoid more deaths?’ Every day we soften by a hair’s breadth.”
Ms Clarke said she often worries whether a woman will make it through the weekend after a particular incident at home. The CEO said about 23 percent of reported incidents involved “disclosure of weapons” and “kill threats.”
The ODVS is hosting a conference on domestic violence Thursday as part of its 25th year of working with victims.
The non-profit organization will highlight an increase in domestic violence against women and what more can be done to eliminate domestic violence.
Attorney General Helen McEntee, who Ms Clarke believes has taken important steps to help victims, will open the event. Legislation is being drafted to introduce paid leave for workers who experience violence at home.
Tusla’s housing review earlier this year examined the provision of safe houses and shelters, she said, and Ms McEntee “accelerated” the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence released in June, Ms Clarke added.
“Compulsory control legislation was also introduced that year. It’s all very positive,” she said.
On the coal front, however, she warned that the level of violence has risen to worrying levels. There is a “really high level of scrutiny and financial abuse,” she said.
Gardaí responded to 48,400 domestic violence cases in 2021 — a 10 percent increase from 2020.
Garda figures released earlier this year also showed a 13 percent year-over-year increase in criminal charges filed for crimes with a domestic abuse element.
There was also a 6 percent increase in criminal charges for violating domestic violence orders.
Ms McEntee was also instrumental in shaping stalking legislation with the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022, which is expected to come into force soon.
However, the serious problems that victims face on a daily basis are compounded by the lack of housing. Both in Offaly and nationally, this remains an issue, Ms Clarke said.
“If the victims leave their homes, where will we place them?” she said.
“A lot of accommodation is fully booked. The living situation is really difficult. We see a lot of coercion and sexual abuse. And there is much poverty due to financial abuse.
“We are one of the nine counties in Ireland without emergency shelters.”
The service is working with Offaly County Council and a housing association to open three “safe houses” for victims in the county over the next year.
“Two are almost done,” Mrs Clarke said.
However, the current shortage of shelters continues to pose challenges for the service.
“People can’t even find a property when they’re looking, and it can be even more difficult when someone is trying to leave a family home,” she said.
“One of the complex problems is responding appropriately to the number of requests for help, which is increasing every day.
“The shelter shortage is being addressed, but it will take time.
“The real estate crisis is here; it is an external influence and we have no control over it.
“It’s a barrier we’ve been able to overcome to support women, but we want to make sure women have safe places to live and to seek out so they don’t get re-traumatized.”
The conference will take place this Thursday 13th October at the Tullamore Court Hotel.
Speakers include Mary-Louise Lynch, survivor and founder of SiSi, a women’s support service; Lisa Marmion, Development Manager for Safe Ireland Services; and Simone George, human rights lawyer and activist.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/womens-lives-are-increasingly-being-threatened-with-knives-swords-and-guns-victims-advocate-42059762.html “Women’s lives are increasingly being threatened with knives, swords and firearms” – Victims’ Advocate