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Abuse victims in fear 'calling for help from garden sheds'

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Manager Sinead Smith

Manager Sinead Smith

Manager Sinead Smith

Victims of domestic violence are calling for help while hiding in sheds, says a refuge and support service which is facing a "humongous challenge" to contact women in danger during the lockdown.

Meath Women's Refuge and Support Services is now urging women and children who have no escape from their abuser to use the 2km restriction zone to get out and look for help when safe to do so.

Difficult

The service has seen a surge in calls and increased demand since virus restrictions came into force, as victims are now unable to get reprieve from work or from visiting friends and can't get away from their abuser, according to manager Sinead Smith.

"We are finding that it's difficult for women to contact us," she said.

"One woman rang us in hiding in her shed and another's abuse restarted because her partner's addiction problem became an issue again since he has been at home.

"Women are also concerned about returning home to a partner after they obtain a protection order from the courts, which increases their fears now when they are home together all the time."

Outreach worker Bernie Kieran said the organisation was appealing to victims to - if they can - go for a walk and use that time to ring the service or a friend for help, and let it know when is a safe time to call.

"Despite the restrictions, we are still providing services 24/7. We are working to be creative and innovative, adapting to meet the needs of women and children during this crisis," Ms Kieran said.

"We are being told to stay at home and stay safe, but home for a victim of domestic violence is not safe. Their world has become even smaller.

"We are facing a humongous challenge to contact women. We don't even want to ring people whose abuser might be sitting next to them."

Donate

The service worked with 43 families at the refuge last year and a further 411 families through outreach services, including court assistance, as well as 92 children through their programme.

Ms Smith said the service was working closely with An Garda Siochana, Tusla and Meath County Council.

Meath Women's Refuge and Support Services can be contacted on 046 9022393 and anyone wishing to donate to the service can do so via Paypal on dvservicesmeath.ie