The Inishowen based domestic violence support group, LIFELINE, has seen a dramatic rise in requests for its services - last year they had 472 calls and drop-ins but within eight months of this year that figure had already been surpassed with 487 similar requests.
Manager Mary Doherty attributed this rise in some degree to the current recession but said that the growing awareness of domestic violence as an issue had also helped those affected come forward.
Broken down Ms Doherty said the figures revealed a shocking ten women and six children a month seek help from LIFELINE in Inishowen.
But the problem is far from confined to the peninsula. According to Ms Doherty one in five women in Ireland has experienced domestic violence.
She said: “In fact 186 women have been murdered in Ireland since 1996. In 53 percent of the resolved cases the women was murdered by her partner or ex-partner.”
Ms Doherty revealed the shocking statistics in advance of the One in Five Women National Balloon Action taking place in Carndonagh at 12 noon on December 8.
She said: “On Saturday week those present at the Carndonagh balloon launch will be standing together in solidarity with abused women in Inishowen and across Ireland and with organisations who are providing vital care and support to victims of domestic violence.”
She appealed for a good turn-out to highlight the issue.
She commented: “Everyone has the right to safety and freedom from violence. Domestic violence is not acceptable.
“We hope that by taking part in the 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence Against Women we will be able to help many vulnerable women to show them that they are not alone and that help is available.”
The Manager of the service said, as usual, one of their main problems was funding: “Apart from LIFELINE’s child counsellor, who is funded by the Family Support Agency, our whole organisation is staffed and run by volunteers.
“Our rent and service provision costs are met by our fantastic volunteer fundraisers.
“Given the increase in women and children using our services, we would require statutory funding as a matter of urgency. .
“As it is we offer court accompaniment, counselling and awareness-raising training.
“We have also built up great links with Donegal County Council’s housing department, local GP’s, the Garda and St Vincent de Paul, which enables women and children to remain in Inishowen.
“But of course we could offer so much more if so much of our time was not taken up continually fundraising.”