On January 13th 2009 the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., launched a major new report on public attitudes to domestic abuse. The report, "Attitudes to Domestic Abuse in Ireland ", is the first of its kind in this country and was commissioned by Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
The survey examined people’s attitudes and beliefs including their understanding of what domestic abuse is; how common people think it is; any differences in how domestic abuse affects men versus women; and what people would do if they suspect someone is a victim.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister said "It is important to understand the need for, and significance of, this study. There is very little research on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in Ireland. The research which had been done shows a consistent prevalence of this abuse, with very low levels of reporting.
We know that domestic abuse is a serious, hidden and tragic issue. It affects people of all ages in all areas of Ireland, whether they are witnesses or direct victims of the abuse. We already have a broad range of organisations in Ireland working very hard to prevent and respond to these crimes yet despite their actions, this kind of criminal behaviour is constant."
The key findings of the survey include almost half (44%) of all Irish people know someone who has experienced domestic abuse, but when people were asked about their willingness to intervene where they encountered domestic abuse, most were only willing to intervene in certain circumstances.
In response to the results of the survey launched, Cosc ran a national public awareness campaign ‘Your Silence Feeds the Violence’ aimed at strongly encouraging the public to take an active role in supporting people who are experiencing domestic abuse. The campaign message illustrates that we are all complicit if we allow domestic violence to continue unchallenged.
Minister Ahern continued: "We can see from this study that the public appear to have a reasonably good understanding of the nature and extent of domestic abuse. The good news is that it is widely regarded as unacceptable. However having a good understanding and awareness of the issue is only one piece of the jigsaw.
Each one of us has a role to play in supporting victims to recover their lives. Where we know of, or suspect, a case of domestic abuse we have a responsibility to understand, to be informed and to know where to go to get expert help. I would encourage people to visit www.cosc.ie for more information if they are worried about someone they know."
Other survey findings include:
· Just over 70% of those surveyed said they consider domestic abuse against women to be a common problem. This view was reported more often by women (81%) than men (60%), by younger than older age groups and by groups with lower education.
· Far fewer people consider domestic abuse against men to be common (42%) than consider domestic abuse against women to be common (70%). In fact a greater share felt that it was not a common occurrence (54%). More women (50%) than men (34%) and groups with lower education regard domestic abuse against men as common.
· Three out of ten (32%) women were worried that they or somebody close to them might become affected by domestic abuse.
· Men (64%) were less inclined to agree that calling hurtful names was a form of domestic abuse under all circumstances than women (71%).
· 74% of those surveyed thought that other people would be unlikely to report domestic abuse incidents to An Garda Síochána.
· In terms of reasons given for others not reporting, the greatest concern was the feeling they should not get involved in other people’s business (88%), followed by fearing they might make matters even worse (75%), that it might result in the removal of children from the family (73%), that it would not improve the safety of those involved (70%). 52% per cent said that people feel An Garda Síochána would not treat the problem seriously enough.
The launch presentation by Dr Justine Horgan is availabe to view or download by clicking on the following link:
The Executive Summary and the full report itself are available from our "Cosc Publications" page.