Domestic abuse knows no borders and regardless of where you are from or what your cultural background or religion is, or if you are a man or a woman, the power and control by one person over another in an intimate or family relationship can present itself. The abuser is using different tactics to keep this control such as emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, digital, or physical abuse. Ireland is becoming increasingly multicultural and following a needs analysis in the Midlands, a gap was identified in terms of individuals from migrant communities failing to access support services.

One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner (UN Women, 2021)

We started as a pilot project in 2018, to identify the barriers and to work on increasing the referral pathways into existing services. The project reported six large barriers affecting migrant and ethnic minority women seeking support.

  • Language and communication
  • Difficult to find the right service to use/Not aware what Domestic violence support services can do for them
  • Shame and stigma or fear of being rejected by the community
  • Fear of racism or prejudice
  • Immigration status issues
  • Cultural or religious issues

Having learned about some of the barriers and having established a network of migrant groups and organisations and services working with migrant communities, we started to work with groups from different nationalities.

The project is working from a community development perspective, and it is a project that is working very close with migrant and ethnic minority communities. Since last year, we have carried out a 6 hour ‘Domestic abuse awareness and response’ training with four different groups, and they are now beginning to share the learning in their communities, in their native language. This training will give the learner an insight into what Domestic abuse is, how to respond to someone who is experiencing it, where to get help and support, what the barriers are for migrant and ethnic minority women to seek help and what the law says in Ireland. This training is not for anyone who is currently in an abusive relationship but for women and men who would like to help in their own communities.

This will let information reach migrant communities which can be hard to access, because of language or trust issues. By starting the conversation, the Domestic abuse awareness Champions can encourage women and men who experience domestic abuse to seek support from a Domestic abuse support service.

Alongside working with migrant groups, the project is putting together a ‘tool kit’ for services. This is a guide for anyone, who work with migrant communities to stay culturally sensitive in their work.  This ‘tool kit’ will be informed by listening to and learning from migrant and ethnic minority community members.

Ethnic minority development project, ODVSS 0860418948

ODVSS helpline – 0579351886 or 0860419154

Men’s aid – 01 554 3811

See for all support services in Ireland

Information Officer

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