"Domestic Violence Incidents Must Not 'Go Under Radar' During COVID-19," Says Green Party Counsellor

"The courts are still sitting and emergency services remain available to those in need."

Former family law solicitor and Green Party councillor Pauline O'Reilly says that she has genuine fears that domestic violence could be set to soar in Ireland.

As government restrictions on social distancing remain stringent, O'Reilly warns that isolated victims of domestic abuse remain most at risk. 

"No one should be forced to live with perpetrators of abuse", the Councillor for Galway City West says. 

"Women, men, and children can be assured that courts are still sitting for these incidents and that emergency services continue to be available to them."

The new Domestic Violence Act – which was updated and came into force on 2 January 2019 – set out a number of notable improvements to increase protection for victims under both civil and criminal law.

One such improvement is that the law will now help to protect victims against psychological and emotional abuse.

READ: Know Your Rights – Psychological Abuse In Relationships Is A Legal Offence In Ireland

Also known as coercive control and/or gaslighting, this sort of abuse centres on psychological manipulation and abuse that can cause extreme distress or fear or violence.

Ireland is the third country in the world to make it an offence, following England and, more recently, Scotland.

"Violence is not just physical but crucially, under the Domestic Violence Act 2018, includes other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse or destruction of property," O'Reilly continued.

"There are a number of orders that can be sought, including emergency orders which last for a limited time until a longer-term order can be made.

"Those affected are still entitled to seek to have perpetrators barred from their home and that message needs to get out."

Other improvements under the new laws include safety orders for those who are in intimate relationships but not co-habiting, and emergency eight-day barring orders where there is an immediate risk of harm.

With the new act, Ireland has also moved a step closer to ratifying a Council of Europe Convention on combating domestic violence and violence against women.

If you have been affected by domestic abuse, Women’s Aid operates a 24hr National Freephone Helpline: 1800 341 900

READ: Isn’t It Time We Stop Blaming Women When They’re Attacked?

READ MORE: Here's What You Can Do To Help Disadvantaged Women In Ireland

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