Want to talk to a victim of domestic violence over the phone but the abuser is at home?
Isolating ourselves at home doesn’t mean cutting ourselves off from our community. Now, more than ever, we need to look out for women who live with domestic violence. Be extra aware of women in your community and what they might be going through right now. But how to do this in a way that is safe for her?
- It is a good time to check in with women who you know are impacted by domestic violence or who show signs of being impacted by it. Ring them to see how they are doing at this time and let them know that there are health services and domestic violence services available if they need help.
- Be aware that the abuser is likely to be in the house and could overhear her talking to you
- If it is safe for her to talk when you call, listen to her and give her information:
- Be aware that she could be interrupted at any time. Decide a code word that she can use if someone comes close enough to overhear her. For example, ask her to say to you, ‘thank you for giving information about the coronavirus, we are ok for the moment’ and to hang up – or some other similar message
- Do not ask too many questions but listen and believe her
- Let her know that services are still open and working during this time
- Ask her to call 112 or 999 if she is ever in an emergency or feels her life or someone else’s life is in danger
- Try to give her the phone number of a domestic violence service – whether the national free phone Women’s Aid helpline 1800 341 900 or a local domestic violence service
- Tell her that local district courts are still open and can support women to make applications for barring and safety orders. Only emergency cases are dealt with at the moment. Each local district court is working differently, so please call your local district court for more information rather than showing up in person. Women’s Aid 1800 341 900 or her local domestic violence service can support her with this
- Support her with creating a safety plan for herself. See section on ‘How can women keep safe in homes with domestic violence during the COVID- 19 crisis?‘
Do not give her ‘advice’ about what she should and shouldn’t do but give her information about her options
- Ask her to think about where she can go to make a safe telephone call if and when she needs to
Ask her if she has someone in the house, yard, next door, or a friend/family member she can trust to call the Gardai
- If she ever needs to go to a refuge, give her the number of the local refuge(s). Ask her to call the refuge first before showing up as the refuge might be full at the time. Instead, if possible, call the refuge to see if they have space. If they don’t have space they can call around to see if there is space in other refuges. If she is not sure what to do but she feels it is not safe to be around her abusive husband or family member call 112 or 999
- If you think the abuser can overhear her:
- Do not start asking questions about her situation
- Tell her to say ‘I’m sorry you got the wrong number – I am not Mary’ and to hang up, or some other similar message
- If you can, tell her that you are there to talk to her at another time
- If you can and is she is good with using her mobile phone, tell her that if she is not able to talk over the phone Women’s Aid runs an online chat service or you can email them at email@example.com