Twelve organisations, including domestic and sexual violence services, women’s support groups, the Courts, the Gardaí, Clare County Council and men’s support groups among others have joined forces to launch a uniquely Clare campaign to let women at risk of violence and abuse know that a unified support system is in place and available for them, right here in their community.
Called Now More Than Ever, the new awareness campaign, signified by a Purple Heart, is led by the multi-agency group, Clare Local Area Network opposing Violence against Women. CLAN are asking people to paint or display a purple heart on their windows, to tell survivors of abuse that they are with them and to send a message that they do not tolerate violence in their towns and townlands.
Each CLAN agency will place a Purple Heart poster in their window in solidarity with these women. When a woman makes contact with one agency with the Purple Heart, she accesses all agencies in CLAN. Purple Heart posters will also be placed around the county with details of each agency and helplines. Members of the public can also show their support by using and sharing #nowmorethanever
The campaign also coincides with the establishment of the new Clare Divisional Protected Services Unit dedicated to investigating crimes where children, females and vulnerable members of society are victims of sexual and physical violence.
Chairperson of CLAN and Liaison Sergeant for Domestic Abuse, Sergeant Caitriona Holohan said that An Garda Síochána has prioritised domestic and sexual violence throughout the Covid-19 crisis with Operation Faoisimh (Respite). Clare Gardaí have seen a marked increase in emergency phone-calls from victims of domestic abuse, including children exposed to domestic violence. Sergeant Holohan is concerned about the heightened level of aggression associated with many of these incidents.
“Each incident reminds me of the seven women killed in County Clare since 1996, five of whom were murdered by a partner or ex-partner,” she said. “From early in this crisis, we have made domestic and sexual violence a priority concern. We know from other countries who had experienced the pandemic before us that containment could be a serious danger for women living with coercive control and abuse. In collaboration with all of the CLAN agencies, we have helped provide protection and support for many women over the past few months and we will continue this, towards helping to break the cycle of abuse”.
Chief Superintendent Sean Colleran added: “An Garda Síochána is committed to ensuring the safety of the public and in particular the more vulnerable members of society. We encourage all victims of crime to report the incident to the Gardaí. Our focus will always be on keeping people safe and we recognise the vulnerability of women who experience violence. All victims should take comfort from the fact that when reporting incidents involving violence they will be dealt with professionally and empathically by members of An Garda Síochána.”
He said that the establishment of the Clare Divisional Protected Services Unit in May 2020 confirms An Garda Síochána’s support for investigating crimes where children, females and vulnerable members of society are victims of sexual and physical violence. An Garda Síochána also recognises the vital role played by our partner agencies and the establishment of CLAN reinforces the multi-agency approach adopted in terms of coordinating the support for all victims of women at risk, he added.
Dr. Siobhán O’Connor, Manager of Clare Haven Services highlighted that many women may have been living with intolerable control and abuse over the past two months.
“It is important that women know that we are here and that we can support them to be safe in their own homes, or give emergency refuge if this is what is needed,” she said. “Over the lock-down period, we saw a flurry of activity initially with a 100% increase of families in refuge in comparison to March last year. However, in April, as restrictions became tighter, this halved. Over the lockdown period we had a 20% increase on our helpline calls. Our services have been open and have been operating throughout this crisis and will continue to do so into the future.”
Elaine D’Alton of the Clare Women’s Network, said that as County Clare, like the rest of the country, begins the slow process of opening up following Covid-19 lock-down, it is vital that women know, now more than ever, that when they reach out, support is here.
“We are through the first phase of the lock-down and restrictions are beginning to lift a little,” she said. “Throughout this time there has been focus on the risks of lock-down on women and children living with their abusers. Now, with a little more space and freedom, we want women who may be unsafe in their homes, or who have experienced sexual assault or violence, to know that when they reach out, expert services are here to listen, to believe, to help, to care.”
She said that there was also a worry that women who may have experienced sexual violence over the past few months in particular may not feel that they can report it. Rape crisis services are concerned that women and young girls may have experienced sexual assault and abuse at “illicit” parties or gatherings during the lockdown and that because these events were not meant to have taken place the women may now be afraid to come forward. “Do not be afraid, do not think that you are to blame but do know that we are here to listen to you and to support you,” she said.
The key message from each of the agencies in County Clare is simple, we are here and we are working together for you, she said. If you know someone who is at risk of violence or abuse, we are asking you to make a call for advice and support, find out what you can do to help your friend, your sister, your neighbour. Now more than ever, CLAN needs you to reach in and offer support to a woman who cannot reach out.
The 12 organisations involved in this campaign include:
Clare Women’s Network, Ennis Courts Services, The Citizens’ Information Services, Rape Crisis Midwest, An Garda Síochána, Clare Haven Domestic Violence Services, Clare Mental Health Services, Primary Health Social Work Services, the Probation Services, Money Advice and Budgeting Service, Clare County Council – Homeless Action Team and M.O.V.E – Men Overcoming Violent Emotions.
Organisations behind Now More Than Ever and details on how to reach them
An Garda Síochána
An Garda Síochána is acutely aware of the 20% increase in domestic abuse during this pandemic. Anyone who may wish to report or discuss an incident of Domestic or Sexual Violence can contact 112/999 or their local Garda Station
For child abuse incidents contact the 24hr dedicated phone line for the reporting of child sexual abuse. The phone line number is 1800 555 222. This confidential free-phone line is manned on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Clare Haven Services
Clare Haven Services is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service. Due to restrictions we have changed how we do this work and now use phone, email and text to ensure women & children are made safe from Domestic Abuse. Our work continues to include outreach to all areas in the county, court accompaniment, emotional support, refuge and the 24 hour help-line 065 6822435 Contact us at any time.
Rape Crisis Midwest
RCM (Rape Crisis Midwest) remains open to new and existing clients across County Clare and is a confidential counselling and support service for women and men who have survived any form of sexual violence including childhood sexual abuse, rape or assault. Freephone 1800311511 Mobile 086 6614481 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/rapecrisismidwest
Clare Women’s Network
We’re still here for you! Staff are working remotely Monday to Thursday and are available to chat and give telephone support. Elaine or Yvie can be reached in the following ways:
Phone: 085-1554800, 083-8924700 Email: email@example.com Social Media: Facebook.com/ClareWomensNetwork Twitter: @Clare_Women Instagram: nccwn_clare_womens_network
Primary Care Social Work Services
Primary Care consists of the health or social care services that you can find in your community, outside of hospital. A primary care team is made up of GP, PHN, Physio, OT, SLT, Home-help Services and Social work. They provide a single point of contact to the health system in the community. People can self- refer/ be referred to the service with their consent by contacting the primary care office in St Joseph’s Hospital Ennis at 065-6863808. Further information can be found on the following site – https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/2/primarycare/
Money Advice and Budgeting Service
Clare MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) is a free and confidential state funded charity. We offer advice on day to day budgeting and money management, as well as assisting people in financial difficulties with credit cards, loans, mortgages and utility bills. We recognise and understand the impact of financial stress on our mental health. Our local office in Ennis can be contacted on 0761 072 430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and find us on facebook by searching for Clare MABS
Public Office at Ennis Courthouse
Whilst courts are running as scheduled with numbers limited, the Public Office at Ennis Courthouse is currently closed. However, if a woman would like to discuss their situation or seek an emergency order they can contact the office at 065 6867500 or email Ennis Court Office at courts.ie. A woman can also access this service via Clare Haven Services.
Citizens Information Centre
Citizens Information staff are continuing to deliver free and confidential information and advice on people’s rights and entitlements. There are no face-to-face consultations at present. Clare Citizens Information by Phone lines are open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Contact Anne Marie O‘Reilly | Information Officer – Ennis CIC | North Munster Citizens Information Service CLG Telephone 0761 07 5260 (Reception)Email: email@example.com | Website: www.citizensinformation.ie
Clare Mental Health Services
These services are operating but in a different way. Emergency referrals and routine appointments are ongoing but via telephone and/or video consultations where possible. Face to face appointments are provided when deemed necessary. There is also a requirement to stagger appointments so the response particularly for routine appointments are not as timely. The CLAN representative contact number: 065 6863710. A link to contact numbers for the various mental health services can be found at the following site – https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/lho/clare/mental-health-services/
The Probation Services in County Clare are closed but we would like to reassure the public that calls will be returned and clients are continuing to engage with their Probation Officers during Covid 19. If anyone has any concerns regarding a client, please contact them on www.probation.ie or +353(0)658645952
Clare County Council – Homeless Action Team
The Homeless Action Team provide support and advice to people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness to residents of County Clare. Whilst the office is currently closed, this service can be accessed by calling 065 6846291 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
M.O.V.E. (Men Overcoming Violent Emotions)
MOVE continues to offer support to current or ex partners of individuals who are on their programme or were on their programme in the past. This Partner Contact Support Service is a free and confidential service. If men are worried about their own behavior they can contact MOVE on 086 4149613 or they can email email@example.com.