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Embargoed : 25th October 2000

Beyond the Day to Count: The daily experience of women living with domestic violence

The National Domestic Violence ‘Day to Count’ profile released by Professor Betsy Stanko today, confirms the prevalence of violence against women in the UK. Approximately 26,000 women contacted Women’s Aid in Northern Ireland between April 1st 1999 and March 31st 2000. Significantly, of this amount, only 1:25 were accommodated in refuges. The context for these statistics needs to be understood:

Ø Leaving an abusive relationship is a process, not an event. Women seek support as they struggle to cope with the shock and disbelief of what has happened, particularly in the beginning.

Ø Many women hope that the violence will stop and the relationship continue.

Ø A range of cultural beliefs, stereotyping and victim blaming means that women are reluctant to identify themselves as living with domestic violence.

Ø While recent changes have increased the effectiveness of the legal options available to women, the practice can be difficult and women experience barriers and constraints to secure their safety.

Ø Recent publicity would suggest that when women and their families do go to court, the criminal justice system can be used by the perpetrator to continue emotional abuse.

Ø The range of Women’s Aid support services required to support women outside of refuge is at risk due to restrictive funding opportunities.

Ø The Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline (02890 331818) receives a significant number of calls from professional women and from women with professional partners who feel even more reluctant to come forward within their professional and personal social groupings.

Ø For rural women, accessibility to services is a key issue.

Ø Information and accessibility to services for all women and their children while improving, is still dependent on securing funding for publicity and campaigning.

Women’s Aid in Northern Ireland developed its aftercare, out-reach, advice centres, refuges and telephone support in response to listening to many women who cope and survive domestic violence on a daily basis. They and we understand that leaving is a process, not an event and that coming to refuge is only a snapshot in the impact of domestic violence on the lives of women and children in Northern Ireland.

Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline 028 90331818




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