New domestic violence figures will allow services to be more effective, says Women’s Aid

The chief executive of Women’s Aid, Sarah Benson has welcomed new detailed figures on domestic violence which, she says will allow the service to be as effective as possible.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Ms Benson said that behind the figures were women, men and children who had been subjected to horrendous crimes.

Work to prevent gender based violence aimed to protect men too, she said. The experience of crime was different between men and women with women more likely to know their perpetrator.

Women’s Aid has been operating for 50 years, said Ms Benson, during which time they had noticed “a sea change” and cultural change in how the gardaí responded to domestic violence. That change was very welcome and there was now an openness to engaging with specialist services such as Women’s Aid. That has enhanced the service and made it more victim centred.

The process of how a case progresses from the original incident to court has evolved, she explained. This was as a result of the developing relationship between support services, the DPP and the gardaí.

Women’s Aid had long been calling for important data like what had been released today, she added.

Meanwhile, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) has welcomed the report, and said the information gives a “clearer understanding of who is committing such crimes as well as the victims reporting them, and thus how to offer better and more targeted services and supports”.

Noeline Blackwell DRCC’s chief executive officer said the statistics correspond with DRCC’s experience on a number of points. “The Garda data show a linkage between women experiencing domestic abuse and sexual as well as other types of violence, and that sexual violence may occur within a broader pattern of domestic abuse. This is something we hear regularly, particularly from callers to the National Helpline.

“We also note the stark increase in the incidence of reported sexual offences incidents with a domestic abuse motive to just over a quarter of all sexual offences that year. We believe this information will be very helpful in identifying vulnerable individuals and ensuring they can access key supports in a timely way, particularly to victims of domestic or intimate partner abuse who need to access specialised services around sexual violence.”

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