Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a worldwide crime and occurs across cultures in every social grouping in society regardless of age, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.   It is a fundamental violation of the human rights of each and every victim whether male or female adult or child. Unfortunately, it is a feature of contemporary family life in Ireland today. In the past domestic violence was accepted as a man’s right but today it is seen more as a public policy issue and not just a private matter between husband and wife in their own home. It can be defined as abusive, violent behaviour by one or both partners in a close intimate relationship and it can be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse (Women’s Aid Model of Work).

Almost one in five Irish women have experienced domestic violence at the hands of their husband, current or former partner and this number is just from reported cases. The tactics used by the perpetrators of domestic violence are controlling, deliberate and repetitive. The victims are made to feel worthless, degraded and in fear for their lives. Sometimes just the threat of violence can have an equally devastating effect on the victim (Women’s Aid: What is Domestic Violence).

Although women make up the vast majority of victims of domestic violence, children and men are also victims. Research shows that children are affected because they are present during the abuse and a high percentage of men who abuse women also abuse children (Women’s Aid Model of Work). Violence also occurs when a woman is pregnant and this can cause threatened or actual miscarriage (Kelliher & O’Connor 1995). In a study at the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin, 12.5% of women reported having experienced domestic violence during a pregnancy and 75% of these women had experienced violence during their current pregnancy (Women’s Aid Model of Work).

In 2008 there were 1,829 incidents of child abuse reported to the Women’s Aid Helpline. These were...