One in five women in Ireland is affected by domestic abuse – but more than one third of them will never speak to anyone about it.
That’s the drive behind the new Women’s Aid awareness campaign ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, encouraging women living with domestic abuse to speak up and reach out for help via a national freephone helpline at 1800 341 900.
“We understand how difficult it is for women experiencing domestic abuse to talk about what is happening,” says Margaret Martin, director of the national agency supporting women and children affected by domestic violence.
“Many women are afraid that they will not be believed or that they will be blamed for the abuse. Others struggle to find the words to describe their situation. All too often, women feel alone and isolated, unaware that help is available or unable to make sense of what is being done to them.”
Martin adds: “It is our sincere hope that through our radio advertising we can speak directly to a woman who is living in fear, and who may be sitting at home, or listening in her car on the way to work or on the school run, and tell her that she is not alone.”
Among the campaign’s supporters is TV3 broadcaster Elaine Crowley. “I know women are famous for talking to each other about all that life throws at us but in the case of domestic abuse, many women feel unable to tell even their closest family or friends. Others do not even know how to start to describe the terrible abuse they are suffering,” she says.
“But I would like to say to any woman in this situation: don’t be afraid to call Women’s Aid, if you are afraid of someone close. They are there to listen to you and to support you. It is a first step to a safer life.
“I also encourage all of us to share the Women’s Aid number online using the hashtag
#DontBeAfraid – you never know who might need it.”
Women’s Aid has announced its helpline will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from 1 January 2016.
“We know how important it is to be available for women whenever they need us,” says Martin. “That might be in the early hours of the morning before the kids wake up, or the middle of the night after an attack by her partner. Or it might be just the right time for her to want to speak to someone.”
For more on the campaign or to donate to Women’s Aid, visit www.womensaid.ie