Recognising and responding to the impacts of domestic abuse on women

18 May, 2022

The 3 R’s

  • Recognise
  • Respond
  • Refer

Who are Women’s Aid?

Women’s Aid is a national front-line organisation working to prevent and address the impact of domestic violence and abuse including coercive control, in Ireland since 1974. We do this by advocating, influencing, training, and campaigning for effective responses to reduce the scale and impacts of domestic abuse on women and children in Ireland and providing high quality, specialised, integrated, support services.


1 in 4 women experience physical and/ or sexual violence since the age of 15.

EU Fundamental Rights Agency Research (2014)

Domestic Violence: a Gendered Crime

• Gender based violence is a term used to describe any form of violence that is directed at a person on the basis of their gender or sex.
• Characteristics of GBV are that the majority of perpetrators are men women are at greatest risk from men they know.

Economic abuse

Eighty nine per cent of women reported experiencing economic abuse as part of domestic abuse Economic abuse is distinct from financial abuse as it encompasses the control, exploitation and sabotage of all economic resources, not ‘ money and finances. Debt through fraud or coercion, also known as coerced debt.

Coerced debt

  • 50 per cent said they had been made to take out a loan/buy something on credit when they didnt want to
  • 43 per cent said that their perpetrator had built up debt in their name
  • 33 per cent said that their perpetrator had taken out a loan or bought something using credit in their name without their permission Surviving Economic Abuse/Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance Whole Housing Toolkit


What is domestic abuse?
Domestic violence is about COERCIVE CONTROL. Coercive control is process whereby a domestic violence perpetrator will use a combination of tactics designed to ensure compliance to their demands by their intimate partner. Focuses on all aspects of a woman’s life. Instilling fear is a key tactic underpinned by man’s sense of entitlement to have power and control in the relationship.


Two core principles

  • Work from where the woman is at
  • Do no harm stay victim/survivor led

Principles of responding to a disclosure

• Listen
• Be non judgemental
• Communicate belief
• Validate the decision to disclose
• Emphasise the unacceptability of violence
• Emphasise confidentiality
• Offer her appropriate referrals for support

Verbal responses to disclosure

• “Thank you for telling me this.”
• “What you are describing sounds like abuse.”
• “The abuse is not your fault.”
• “You have a right to live a life free of violence, abuse, and fear.”
• “You have options and we can help you find.”


Women’s Aid Freephone National Helpline 24/7/365