EXCLUSIVE: Housing crisis impacting Kilkenny women fleeing domestic abuse
By SINÉAD CONNOLLY
THE housing crisis in Kilkenny is having a major impact on victims of domestic abuse who are unable to find alternative long-term accommodation and build a new life away from abusive relationships.
Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge CLG, offers emergency accommodation to women and children at risk, but it is only a short-term solution. However, because of the difficulty Kilkenny County Council faces in finding suitable accommodation, delays mean the length of stay for clients at the refuge can be longer than expected.
Jean Murphy, Assistant Manager at Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge CLG, told KilkennyNow.ie: “With the housing now, it makes everything so difficult. We had to change our length of stay policy to three months.”
The mission at Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge CLG, is to empower women and children, of all cultures and backgrounds, to achieve their rights to live abuse-free lives. This is done by providing a safe, secure, and supportive environment for women who are in danger.
“A lot of women end up in refuge when they don’t have family around. They could be from a different country or because of the domestic violence they may have become isolated from their family,” explains Jean.
Some women don’t ask for refuge and instead want for advice and support. “It depends on the woman’s case. It depends on what she wants. If she wants to go to court for an order, we accompany her and support her through that process. If she wants to report to the gardaí, we can contact the Protected Services Division in the Garda Station. They deal with domestic, sexual, child abuse. If she needs refuge we would see to that,” Jean adds.
Domestic abuse is the power and control one partner exerts over the other. Abuse is a pattern that can escalate from threats and verbal abuse to violence. Even if there is no physical abuse, consequences can still be very damaging. Domestic abuse comes in many forms, including emotional/psychological abuse, coercive control, verbal abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse.
The refuge offers a range of services to support women and children at risk. These include a confidential 24/7 Helpline, safe short-term emergency accommodation, Court Accompaniment Service and counselling. An Outreach Support worker can meet women for support and information in safe rural and city locations in Kilkenny.
“We provide refuge for the anyone in Kilkenny or Carlow. But if someone needs to seek refuge for a short period of time they can come from anywhere,” Jean explains.
Staff at the refuge work together with women to assess their needs and then set a care-plan or goal to address them. A childcare worker works with children residing in the refuge or on a referral basis. The childcare worker uses a programme to address the needs of children affected by domestic violence, in collaboration with the parent.
Jean urges any woman who is at risk to give them a call because they are not alone. “Contact us, you don’t have to give your name, just give us a ring. It’s a confidential helpline,” Jean adds.
Contact Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge CLG on the 24/7 Helpline 1850 42 42 44.
Male victims of Domestic Violence can contact Amen on 046-9023718 Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.
For more details, log on to: http://www.kilkennywomensrefuge.ie