Rise in new contacts to domestic violence service

UP to five new callers are phoning Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service (DDVS) each week, with the cost of living crisis and housing emergency driving up contact.

Manager of the service, Dr Marie Hainsworth said contact to the service, which also offers refuge and emergency accommodation for women and children, has gone up this year. Families are having to stay around four-fold the length of time than previously because of the current crises.

“Over the year we have seen contact to our service going up, it has not gone down. We have four or five new callers a week, averaging out at one new caller to the service a day,” she said.


“We are working with between 40 and 50 families a week. What we’re finding is that families are staying longer with us and that is down to a number of things such as a drop in income, the cost of living crisis and the rental market. A lot of our clients are being pushed out of the rental market and also into food and fuel poverty that they had not experienced before. Previously, clients would have stayed three to four months respite, but now we are finding they are staying for over a year before moving to their own home. That is problematic in terms of rent, for example, because rental prices can jump up by €100 a month.”

Dr Hainsworth said the DDVS has seen a increase in the complexity of cases.

“We’re working with children with a high level of disability and clients who are accessing counselling services. Our work is more intricate, we are working closer with social workers, mental health teams and gardaí. A lot of frontline services are experiencing this rise in need.”

Dr Hainsworth said they are here for  anyone who needs emergency accommodation or who needs to make contact over the Christmas and New Year period.

DDVS has seen a rise in those aged in their 60s and 70s making contact because of familial abuse.

“We have seen an increase in older generations making contact. Those aged in their 60s and 70s are coming forward. It may have been the case that their sons for example witnessed abuse growing up and now they are carrying that out.”

She appealed for people in need to get in touch.


“Christmas is a very pressured time for a lot of families. It is not a happy time for all children and families, we know this from the calls made to Childline. We are open over Christmas and I appeal to families to get in touch. Do not wait until the new year to get in touch. Don’t take risks with your safety.

“We are also here for carers and siblings of those experiencing domestic abuse. Please reach out.”

DDVS 24-hour helpline is 0873812438. Contact can also be made via WhatsApp or through Facebook messenger.

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