One in five women suffer abuse but a third stay silent, says charity
One in five women in Ireland continues to suffer abuse at the hands of their partner, according to a leading organisation.
Women's Aid, which has just launched its Don't Be Afraid campaign, also said that one-third of women never tell anyone about what is happening to them.
The organisation receives calls from more than 30 women on an average day, and received 11,167 calls during 2014.
But Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, said that a "huge stigma" remains in relation to domestic abuse.
"It's much more difficult to leave a relationship when you are in a relationship with children," she said.
"If you are in a relationship with someone who abuses you, people ask: 'If it's that bad, why hasn't she left him yet?'"
Ms Martin also pointed out that women suffer from wide-ranging forms of abuse, such as physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.
"It's very seldom that you are going to come across physical abuse and you are not going to come across emotional abuse," she said.
She also said that some controlling partners would go through receipts to track the movements and expenses of the victim.
Ms Martin said that contacting a helpline could make a "huge difference" and that Women's Aid were "ready to listen" - even if the victim found it hard to express themselves.
"It might be a silent call. They might struggle and falter," she said. "For some women, it might come gushing out."
She also urged friends and families of victims to take time to listen instead of just telling the woman to leave their partner.
"What we know from research is that the time when a woman is thinking of leaving is the most dangerous time.
"Friends can be a huge support. If the woman is in court, a friend could pick up the kids from school or just go for a cup of coffee with the victim," she added.
TV3 presenter Elaine Crowley has also lent her support to the campaign.
"I know women are famous for talking to each other about all that life throws at us, but in the case of domestic abuse, many women feel unable to tell even their closest family or friends," she said.
The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline is available on 1800 341 900.