June 14, 2012

3,000 children saw mothers raped, beaten, or threatened

Ireland - About 3,000 children saw their mothers threatened, beaten, or raped in the family home last year.

The domestic abuse support group Women’s Aid said thousands of women across Ireland were living in a constant state of fear that the next attack would result in serious injury or death.

Its director Margaret Martin said yesterday: "In 2011, women disclosed that they were punched, slapped, kicked, held down, strangled, and beaten with household items. 

"Women told us that they were constantly belittled, criticised, blamed, and stalked and harassed via technology both during the relationship and after leaving. 

"Women reported that they had been raped, sexually assaulted, and given no option but to comply with their abuser’s sexual demands." 

Meanwhile, the Women’s Aid annual report further revealed that many children were being emotionally, physically, and sexually abused in their homes. 

More than 2,000 women who called the domestic violence helpline said their children had suffered at the hands of a perpetrator, while another 3,000 youngsters witnessed their mothers being threatened, beaten, or sexually abused. 

Ms Martin said domestic violence remained a serious problem in Irish society. 

More than 11,000 calls reporting 13,000 incidents were made to the charity last year, with 44% disclosing children were also directly abused or present. 

"Women have told us that their children were being hit, smacked, constantly shouted at, and in some cases, sexually abused." 

A male intimate partner, it emerged, was responsible for carrying out the abuse in 74% of cases. 

Pregnant women and new mothers also reported being beaten and raped, and many women were worried about how to protect their children, she said. 

"Many women will seek to leave the abusive situation when they become aware of the risk to their children. Unfortunately, the abuse can continue even when women end the relationship.

"Far from ending the abuse, this time can be very dangerous for women and children. Many women reported that abusive former partners were continuing to use access visits to abuse both them and children." 

Women’s Aid has appealed for public funds for its freephone helpline, 1800 341900, open from 10am to 10pm seven days a week. 

Elsewhere, domestic violence charity Sonas Housing warned domestic violence can increase during football tournaments. It said Ireland’s fortunes and alcohol can be used as an excuse to exacerbate violence or to legitimise violence in an abusive relationship.

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