As the Coronavirus crisis continues, there is growing concern about the potential for domestic abuse in self isolation situations. Women’s Aid and others have already flagged the risk to women in abusive relationships when self-isolating and working from home.
Women and men in such relationships are now at greater risk of constant exposure to abusive and controlling behaviours, verbal and emotional abuse, and violence. There is a potential pressure pot waiting to explode, with no reprieve in sight and no witnesses.
This concern naturally extends to the children living in these households. Just as abused partners can no longer escape the home, children no longer have the reprieve of time in school.
Home isolation and social restrictions also present challenges for parents who are living with abusive adult children. When the adult child is no longer out at work or college during the day, the same kind of pressure arises. And so, the likelihood of abuse increases.
Are Protections from Domestic Abuse Still In Place?
If you are being subjected to abuse at home, it is important to know this: the protection of the courts is still there for you. The courts have temporarily suspended hearing all cases except for urgent cases. But applications under the Domestic Violence Act are naturally considered urgent. Therefore, there are options available to you, such as applying to court for a Protection Order or an Interim Barring Order. The circumstances of your case will determine which is the appropriate initial application. You can seek, and be granted, one of these temporary Orders. A later hearing date will also be given for either a Safety Order or a Barring Order.
Help and Advice on Domestic Violence
If you need help, or advice about the options for your particular circumstance, you should contact any of the following:
- The Gardai for immediate and urgent assistance.
- Women’s Aid or Men’s Aid for advice and guidance.
- Your solicitor for advice and guidance.
- The local courts office who can also assist and let you know when the next Judge will be available in your locality to take your application.
I also strongly recommend that you have a safety plan in place – if something happens who can you call or text quickly? Is there a special code you can use to send a simple message to someone when you need help? Older children often feel more secure with their own safety plan, a secure person they can contact if in difficulty.
Some Useful Contact Information:
Women’s Aid Freephone number is 1800 341 900 and it operates 24/7
SafeIreland.ie also carries up to date information about local services in the current COVID 19 climate
If you have any queries about your legal rights and options, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org