Barring orders advised for domestic abuse victims

A domestic abuse service is urging women to seek barring orders against their abusers instead of fleeing their home because of the accommodation crisis.

Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service (DDVS) says it has seen a year on year rise in the number of families it is supporting.

The service currently has five families in its refuge accommodation and is supporting on average 125 families a month.


This is up from last year, when 100 families were being supported and is also a rise from the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when the average number was 85.

Manager of the service, Dr Marie Hainsworth said looking ahead to the winter months, there are huge concerns because of rising fuel costs and increased rents.

“We have already had concerns for the last couple of years with rising fuel costs and increased rents leading to women rethinking decisions to leave their new accommodation and return to abusers. The other big one is increased social isolation because there is no spare money to leave the house and meet and connect with others.

“I think this winter will have a huge impact and we are already having to say to women leaving home and looking for newly rented accommodation at the moment is not going to be easy. We are having to advise people to look more at securing Barring orders and actively removing abusers from the family home; which leads to added stress, increased fear and anxiety of engaging in the legal system and the fact that the abuser always knows where you live and is probably very familiar with the area and people living there that can keep an eye out and report back to him, so compromised safety is another factor.”

Dr Hainsworth said the situation locally is mirrored around the country. She fears it will get worse as many services are buckling under the strain.

“We know it’s not just ourselves. Observations from the foodbank, when staff have visited there, have highlighted ongoing food shortages. Saint Vincent de Paul have already highlighted the increase into their service and colleagues across the homeless providers are struggling to find accommodation for their clients. It’s not easy seeing a solution to this and it will get a lot worse.

“It’s not just one issue because the country has been spiralling on a number of issues for a while now with housing shortages and massive rent increases without any increase in Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) supports. This alongside cost of living increases and fuel prices – on top of Covid lockdowns is bringing everything to a head.”


She added: “We are doing a lot more phone support since Covid which does mean we can support more women but we’ve never turned people away so the requests for support have also increased.”

DDVS provides 24-hour crisis support and information on 1800 262 677, e-mail or see

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