Lockdown sees big increase in domestic abuse

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REPORTS of domestic abuse in Limerick have risen by up to one third with victims of the crime effectively imprisoned with their abusers during lockdown.

Garda sources say there is a huge concern in the force about the surge in incidents, particularly violent incidents, since lockdown began.

And a chilling twist in the way in which domestic abuse and physical violence have increased is reflected in the experience of Limerick’s ADAPT House, which offers support and refuge to women and children experiencing abuse.

“Just before lockdown took full effect, there was a 50 per cent spike in calls to our helpline,” ADAPT’s Assistant Director, Denise Dunne, told the Limerick Post

“The Limerick refuge has been full all along but after lockdown, the phones went quiet.

“People who needed help, we believe, were no longer in a position to find safe space to even make a phone call. At least when children had to be brought to school, or shopping was a way of getting out of the house, there was some kind of relief. Once lockdown happened they were very much more confined.”

Official figures are not yet available for the last three months but Garda sources in Limerick believe reports of incidents have increased by one third at least, a factor which is both worrying and hopeful because it at least shows that victims of such crimes are increasingly reporting what is happening.

Gardaí advise that anyone concerned for their safety does not have to involve the police initially but can contact ADAPT House, whose staff will help victims get  court orders restraining the abuser.

If such an order exists, it gives Gardaí powers of arrest and detention and to bring the offender before the courts.

This week, totalhealth Pharmacies across Limerick are launching a locally-focused initiative called Gateway to Safety, to help ensure that survivors of domestic violence can get access to expert support and advice on their main streets.

People experiencing domestic violence and coercive control, and those close to them, are encouraged to come forward to talk in confidence to the team at a local totalhealth Pharmacy where they will be immediately connected with ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services, for free and confidential support and advice.

Both Gardaí and ADAPT staff stress that abuse does not have to be physical, it can take the form of emotional, mental or financial control.

Anyone with concerns can contact the Gardai, ADAPT on 061 412354 or go to their nearest totalhealth pharmacy. The Women’s aid helpline on 1800 341900 is available 24 hours 365 days of the year.