Domestic abuse impacts and damages the lives of thousands of women and children in Ireland every year.
While men can and do experience domestic abuse and domestic abuse happens in same sex relationships as well, the vast majority of perpetrators of domestic abuse are men and the vast majority of victims are women and children, both boys and girls.
Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour and involves the threat or use of any or all of the following in close adult relationships: physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse. The ultimate goal in domestic abuse is to instill fear in order to control and subdue the other person in the relationship.
Domestic abuse, and other forms of violence against women, stem from gender inequality and a refusal by perpetrators that women and children have rights. Domestic abuse can and does intersect with sexual and other forms of gender-based violence and occurs across culture, social class and ethnicity.
One in three women in Ireland have experienced psychological abuse by a partner while 15% of women in Ireland have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner. (EU Fundamental Rights Agency/ 2014). Domestic abuse is an under-reported crime.
Domestic abuse is the emotional abuse of any children in that relationship, even if they are not the direct recipients of the abuse; the fact that boys and girls are exposed is abuse in itself (Children First). Children, however, can also be the direct recipients of abuse in domestic violence situations: and the link between child abuse and domestic violence is well established:
- Some perpetrators can and do use children in the relationship to further abuse the adult victim in the relationship ie making the child join in the abuse of its parent which in itself is abusive of the child
- Some perpetrators can and do separately physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically abuse the child/ children in the relationship
Domestic abuse is not inevitable – while there will always be those who seek to abuse… recognition and support of rights, available appropriate services and perpetrator accountability informed by criminal justice sanction will reduce domestic abuse