Post Covid-19 surge in Laois domestic abuse calls expected

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Post Covid-19 surge in Laois domestic abuse calls expected

Laois Domestic Abuse Service expects surge in callers after lockdown

Laois Domestic Abuse Service is preparing for an increase in requests for help as the Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The service says the comp combination of home working could mean ongoing prisons for women and children living with abusers.

The service said that it was preparing a further surge in calls from women and children who have been contained with their abusers for weeks.

Marna Carroll from Laois Domestic Abuse Service said that the intensity of control and abuse had increased during the lockdown for women and children in abusive homes, unable to find a safe time to call.

“The lockdown period was like a roller coaster and to some extent continues to be that. Initially the silence was ominous and we as a service agonised over how to navigate lockdown as a domestic abuse service. We were aware that women and children were unable to reach us. The windows of opportunity to make calls had all but disappeared. Over the last three weeks there has been a considerable difference in the level of contact we are receiving. Women and children have been experiencing increasingly intolerable situations, and simply cannot take anymore, as a service there is a relief in receiving more calls and contact from women. There is no doubt that during lockdown many women and children in abusive homes experienced an increase in the intensity of control and abuse.

“Our services have been open and have been operating throughout this crisis. As we begin to open up here in Laois, it is important that women know that we are here and that we can support them to be safe in their own homes, or support women to find alternative accommodation if this is what is needed.”

“We have to be prepared to respond to this new normal. The fractured and piece-meal state response to domestic violence that we had for decades simply won’t do this. Our services have been open and operating throughout this crisis. As we begin to open up here in Laois, it is important that women know that we are here and that we can support them to be safe in their own homes, or support women to find other accommodation if needed,” she said.

Ms Carroll he also said that Covid 19 could mean that the “home-work divide’ will be reconfigured in the long-term, raising serious issues for the risk and invisibility of domestic violence.

“What we now regard as ‘the private' may be radically changed with technology likely to reconfigure our lives utterly.

“We have to seriously consider if the future will make an absolute prison of these combined spaces for many women and children? We have to be prepared to respond to this new normal. The fractured and piece-meal state response to domestic violence that we had for decades simply won’t do this.” she said.

She said that Covid-19 had exposed the lack of support from the state to victims of domestic violence. For example women fleeing domestic violence during Covid-19 are still unable to receive a rent supplement.

Laois Domestic Abuse Service has an Emergency Covid-19 Fund to support the urgent needs of women and children throughout the crisis.

It covers the cost of food, utility bills, transport or materials and appliances for new accommodation.

See www.laoisdomesticabuseservice.ie for more including how to donate. The website also offers a 'delete history' button to protect users.