Domestic Violence

What does domestic violence look like? 

When we talk about domestic violence, you may have a certain picture in your mind, perhaps a husband who routinely beats his wife or shouts in anger. While this is the truth for many women, domestic abuse will look differently for everyone, and can be nuanced and complex. What these toxic relationships have in common are an abuse of power and trust. One partner exercises control over the other partner through whatever means they have available – physical violence, verbal attacks, sexual assault, threats to children and family members and many other ways. Below, we give examples of different kinds of abuse which may be experienced by migrant women. We also describe the rights you have and protection of the law, and services for seeking safety.   

Physical Violence 

Examples include beating, pushing, slapping, choking, grabbing or assaulting with a weapon. Physical assault or battery is a crime, and the Gardaí have the authority to offer protection. 

Verbal Violence 

Degrading comments, threatening tone of voice, name-calling/ put-downs (e.g. calling the woman wicked, stupid, useless or a prostitute), interrogation, swearing, shouting, or calling racist/sexist names. 

Emotional and Psychological Abuse 

Negative criticism, intimidation, disrespect, harassment, stalking, ignoring, fault-finding, humiliation, blaming the woman for his behaviour, making her feel worthless or withholding affection. The abusive partner might lie to authorities or the woman’s community about her immigration status. 

Sexual Violence 

Rape, sexual exploitation, sexual name-calling, unfaithfulness, hurtful sex, being forced to do something unwanted that is sexual. 

Financial Abuse 

Spending child benefit on himself, preventing the woman from pursuing training/education/employment, sabotaging her job, withholding money/credit cards, stealing from her or withholding basic necessities, e.g. food, clothes or accommodation. 

Cultural or Religious Abuse 

Using culture or tradition as an excuse for violence, or using the Bible, for example, selectively so as to manipulate the woman.  

Threats and Coercion 

Threats and Coercion: Threatening to take children away/out of the country, threats of violence, forcing the woman to act against her will, threatening immigration status (e.g. threatening to report the woman to authorities, so she and/or her children will be deported, or threatening to withdraw her immigration application). He might hold or hide her immigration documentation, including passport, Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) card or temporary residence certificate, and not disclose filing deadlines that are necessary for her to maintain her (or her children’s) residency status. 

Isolation and removal from family, community 

Preventing the woman from seeing friends and relatives, or from contacting support services; monitoring her movements, or limiting her access to money, the phone or a car. He might not allow her to learn English. Some African women come from patriarchal, traditional cultures where the woman is seen as being under the control, first of her own family, and then of her husband and his extended family. There can be a fear of being stigmatised or ostracised from her community if she leaves her husband and/or seeks refuge. 

Elder Abuse 

Elder abuse is the abuse of someone aged 65 or over. The abuse can be: physical, financial, psychological, sexual.  Other forms of elder abuse include neglect and discrimination. 

Property Damage 

Breaking a woman’s belongings (possibly things from her country of origin), e.g. damaging her car. 

Knowing the signs of domestic abuse is the first step to accepting that a relationship is toxic and taking steps to safety. Domestic abuse is an exercise of power and control. If a partner exerts their power to control and harm you, the relationship may be toxic and is against your rights as an individual. The Wheel of Power and Control describes this relationship.  

Your Legal Rights 

Court Orders  

Under Irish law, there is no such thing as a ‘restraining order’ but there are orders which you can request from the courts to gain some safety from your abuser. Which order you seek depends on the type of relief you need, the urgency of the situation and the nature of your relationship with the abuser.  

  • Safety Order 
  • Barring Order 
  • Interim Barring Order 
  • Emergency Barring Order 
  • Protection Order 

Independent Immigration Status 

There is a policy which allows dependent partners of Stamp holders to seek independent immigration status from the Department of Justice, where there is an issue of domestic abuse. In order to seek this status, you must show evidence of abuse, whether that is through reports from Gardaí, healthcare providers, social workers or the Courts. You should gather any documentation to prove that abuse occurred and the department will make a decision to give you a Stamp 4, allowing you to live and work in the State on your own terms.  

Offences in Irish Law 

  • Coercive control 
  • Violence or threat of violence – including assault, aggravated assault etc.  
  • Sexual Assault – including rape, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault  
  • Harassment 

How much do you know about consent?

Can you spot the red flags in a relationship? Take our quiz to recognise the signs of healthy and unhealthy behaviours in a relationships.

If you, your children or somebody you know is in immediate danger, please call the Gardaí. Dial 112 or 999 for emergency services.

Otherwise, you can find the number to your local Garda station here: Station Directory

Women’s Aid

Call  Women’s Aid at 1800 341 900

Women’s Aid are Ireland’s longest running domestic violence charity. They operate a 24 hour helpline

The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline offers confidential information, support and understanding to women in the Republic of Ireland, who are being abused by current or former boyfriends, partners or husbands. The service also supports family members, friends, and professionals who have concerns about a person, they know or are working with, who might be experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Call the National Helpline on 1 800 77 8888

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is a national organisation offering a wide range of services to any person affected by rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or childhood sexual abuse.

Cork Sexual Violence Centre

Their freephone helpline (1800 496 496) and text service (087 153 3393)

Sexual Violence Centre Cork was set up on International Women’s Day in 1983 and has been providing services to victims of sexual violence in Cork city and County for over 37 years. The Centre was formerly known as Cork Rape Crisis Service.

The Centre has two main aims:

  1. To work towards the elimination of sexual violence in society.

  2. To provide the highest quality of services to victims of sexual violence.

The Centre remains open from 9.00am – 5.00pm.

Offaly Domestic Violence Support Service

They offer an information line, support & information, outreach service, court accompaniment, & advocacy.

Telephone: 057 935 1886 or visit their website for more details

Bray Women’s Refuge

24 hour service, open 365 days

Helpline : 01 286 6163

Local Help


If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, you can contact your local Tusla agent here: Local Service Area.

Language Services

If English is not your first language, you can avail of a telephone interpreter for their services. Call the Telephone Interpretation Service from 8am – 8pm.

  • Polish: Możesz rozmawiać z Women’s Aid w swoim własnym języku. Zadzwoń pod 1890 341 900.
  • French: Vous pouvez parler à Women’s Aid dans votre propre langue. Appelez le 1890 341 900.
  • Portuguese: Você pode falar com o Women’s Aid em seu próprio idioma. Ligue para 1890 341 900.
  • Lithuanian: Su Women’s Aid galite kalbėti savo kalba. Skambinkite 1890 341 900.
  • Romanian: Puteți vorbi cu Women’s Aid în limba dvs. Sunați la 1890 341 900.
  • Yoruba: O le sọrọ si Women’s Aid ni ede rẹ. Pe 1890 341 900.
  • Igbo: Nwere ike iji Women’s Aid n’asụsụ gị. Kpoo 1890 341 900.
  • Swahili: Unaweza kuzungumza na ‘Women’s Aid’ kwa lugha yako. Piga simu kwa 1890 341 900.
  • Arabic:
  • يمكنك التحدث مع “Women’s Aid” بلغتك. اتصل على 1890341900.