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Support for women affected by domestic abuse and violence

WOMEN affected by domestic abuse and domestic violence are finding it more difficult to make contact for support with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic removing “little windows of freedom”, according to Clare Haven. However the local service have assured that they are open and working to protect women and children despite the ongoing health crisis. This comes as Clare Gardai confirmed a number of domestic violence incidences were reported to them last week.
Clare Haven Services, which has been supporting women and children affected by Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence in Co Clare for 25 years, has welcomed as “timely” a new Government awareness and information campaign on domestic violence.
Dr Siobhán O’Connor, Manager of Services, said that the campaign comes at a critical time for women and children who may be confined and isolated with their abuser in towns and townlands across the county. She said that the campaign was creative and strong in its message to survivors and communities that professional frontline supports in Clare are open and operating. She encouraged people to call the helpline on 065 6822435 for support and information any time of the day or night.
“The most important message is that we are open and working to help protect women and children here in County Clare,” said Siobhán. “Covid-19 brings challenges but we are re-configuring and finding new, creative ways to help keep women safe.”
“In the last two to three weeks the refuge itself has been very busy. Similarly, women, and those concerned for them, continue to ring us on the helpline. We encourage them to do so. We know it is difficult generally for women and children, however, the current isolation and closing off of public places, places of escape, for them is heightening anxiety. Clare Haven Services are reaching out to women in Co Clare to rest assure them that we are here, we are available to all women and we will help.”
“It is the silences that are ominous,” she said. “Our greatest concern, four weeks into this pandemic, is that women may be finding it much more difficult to make contact for support. Previously women may have contacted services when they or their partners were at work or out of the house, or when children were in school. Those little windows of freedom are being cut down.”
Siobhán also said that in these stressful circumstances that it was more important than ever that there was a strong community response to domestic violence. “During Covid-19 we are being reminded that we are all in this together. The response to domestic violence can be no different. We are asking people to be vigilant, to keep in touch with friends and family, to be aware that homes may not be safe and to be her voice in looking for support at a time when she may not be able to use her voice.” She said that a strong awareness campaign must matched with solid and reliable State funding so that Clare Haven Services is adequately resourced to continue to give refuge to women or keep them safe in their homes. Safe Ireland, the national social change agency, has made a case to Government on behalf of all services, including CHS for €1.6 to enable all services to manage this crisis adequately.
An Garda Siochana has launched Operation Faoiseamh, and are urging anyone experiencing domestic violence to contact them.
According to Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Triona Brooks, “There were a number of domestic violence incidents reported to the Gardaí in Clare from April 6 to 13. We want to encourage anybody with difficulties in relation to domestic violence to contact the gardaí – we are concerned that victims of any crime but especially domestic violence might be reluctant to contact gardaí as they may think that we are too busy to help them.
“The garda service in Clare has not been impacted by Covid 19 in fact, because of the restructuring of An Garda Síochána there are more gardaí than ever on our streets and in our communities around the county and we are ready to assist and protect all victims including victims of domestic abuse.
“Operation Faoiseamh now uses the Garda Victims Services Office to make phone contact with previous victims of domestic abuse. Their purpose is to find out if there are any issues that gardaí may be able to resolve and any concerns will be responded to immediately. One of our functions is to assist the victim in getting access to the many support services available and to the Courts Services so that protection and safety orders can be obtained and these will help to ensure the protection of the victim and the family involved.
“If you are a victim of abuse or you know of a family member or friend who is a victim of such abuse, that information is important to us. Please make contact with An Garda Síochána. If you require urgent assistance, please call 999 or 112, Gardaí are there to listen to help and to protect you.”

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