1. What The Research Tells Us



 What the Research Tells Us:

There is strong evidence that domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is underreported in Ireland. On this page you find a range of recent statistics and findings from the following sources:

FRA EU Survey on Violence Against Women (2014)

 The survey findings are based on face-to-face interviews with 42,000 randomly selected women (approximately 1,500 per country) aged 18-74 years, across the EU’s 28 Member States. Using a standardised interview questionnaire, women were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’) as well as the consequences of such violence, and their experience of services contacted. The survey also covered experiences of stalking, sexual harassment, their childhood experiences of violence, and the role played by new technologies in women’s experiences of abuse.


Extent of the problem

Overall prevalence of physical and sexual violence

Characteristics of physical violence

Characteristics of sexual violence

Details of intimate partner violence

Details of non-partner violence

Initial analysis highlighted notable differences in the Irish experience compared to the EU average follows.


Physical, Sexual and Psychological Violence

o Psychological violence (31% compared to 43%).
o Controlling behaviour (23% compared to 35%).
o Economic violence (10% compared to 12%).
o Abusive behaviour (24% compared to 32%).

o by a partner (21% compared to 14%), or .
o by a non-partner (16% compared to 13%).

Violence in Childhood

o Fewer fathers, step or foster fathers (23% of cases of physical violence compared with 58%)
o More male teachers, doctors or priests (13% of cases compared with 6%) and
o More female acquaintances, friends or neighbours (17% of cases compared with 4%).


Opinions, Attitudes and Awareness


For a copy of the full report click here






Rape & Justice in Ireland (RAJI) is a report on 4 years of independent academic research undertaken in the Faculty of Law, NUIG, by a team led by Dr. Conor Hanly. The academic expertise within the team included qualifications in criminology, the law, psychology, statistics, sociology, political science and equality. The research was commissioned by Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI).


The research looked at three populations/sets of materials.

2004 inclusive were examined.

2000 and 2005 - 173 cases were examined.


Some Findings


 Source: Conor Hanly, Deirdre Healy, Stacey Scriver, Rape & Justice in Ireland: A National Study of Survivor, Prosecutor and Court Responses to Rape (RAJI), RCNI, Liffey Press, Dec. 2009


Attitudes to Domestic Abuse in Ireland (2008):

Research Description:

A survey, undertaken by Cosc, to examine attitudes and perceptions towards domestic abuse among the general population in Ireland.  It is based on a nationally representative sample of 2,008 randomly selected adult men and women who were normally residing in Ireland at the time of the survey..


• Just over 70 per cent of people consider domestic abuse to be a common problem in Ireland.
• 44 per cent of people know somebody who personally had been a victim of domestic abuse.
• 94 per cent of people would help a friend, 65 per cent would help a stranger and 38 per cent would help a neighbour being subjected to domestic abuse.
• 74 per cent said that other people would be unlikely to report domestic abuse incidents to An Garda Síochána.

                                                                                                      Source: Horgan et al (2008)


Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (2002):

Research Description:

A survey undertaken to estimate the prevalence of various forms of sexual violence among Irish women and men across the lifespan from childhood through adulthood.  It is  based on a nationally representative sample of 3,118 randomly selected participants from the adult general population in Ireland. The overall response rate for the study was 71 per cent.





 Source: McGee et al (2002) 


National Study of Domestic Abuse (2003):
Research Description:


A study undertaken to give an overview of the nature, extent and impact of domestic abuse against women and men in intimate partner relationships. It is based on a nationally representative statistical sample of 3,077 randomly selected adult women and men in Ireland. The response rate to the survey was 58 per cent of contacted households, rising to 93 per cent of individuals identified as eligible to participate


Source: Watson, D. and Parsons, S. (2005)


"SAY SOMETHING "A Study Of Students'' Experiences Of Harrassment,Stalking,Vioelnce And Sexual Assault (2013)


Research Description:

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) conducted the "SAY SOMETHING" research study of students’ experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault, with the support of Cosc (National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence).

This research study is the first of its kind and scale to be conducted in Ireland. The study took place between January 10th and February 15th 2013 with over 2,750 third level students responding online. The participants were of mixed gender and sexuality.


The report focused on the following areas; Unwanted Sexual Experiences, Physical Mistreatment, Harassment, Obsessive Behaviour and Information on Campus. Some of the key findings highlighted in the report include:



Reported frequency of domestic violence: cross sectional survey of women attended general practice in Ireland (1996/97):
Research Description:


The main aim of this study was to determine exposure to violence by a partner or spouse among women (over 16yrs) attending general practice. It was conducted using a cross sectional, self administered survey of 2,615 women attending 22 Irish general practices. Between March 1996 and May 1997, each practice collected data for 2 weeks. A total of 1,871 women responded - a response rate of 72 per cent.

• 39 per cent of the 1,692 women who had ever had a sexual relationship had experienced violent behaviour by a partner.
• 69 per cent reported controlling baviour by their partner and 28 per cent feeling afraid of their previous or current partner.
• 12 per cent of those women who had experienced violence by a partner reported that their G.P. had asked them about domestic violence.
• 77 per cent of the total sample were in favour of routine enquiry about domestic violence by their usual G.P.
• Women who reported domestic violence were 32 times more likely to be afraid of their partner than women who did not report such violence.
                                                                                                                    Source: Bradley, F. et al., 2002


Listening to Children: Children's Stories of Domestic Violence

Ferguson and O’Reilly (2007) provide evidence of the prevalence of domestic violence in child protection work:

In 7 per cent of 286 cases referred to social work teams, domestic violence was the main reason for the referral. In a further 19 per cent  of cases, domestic violence was also cited as a child protection concern; this increased to 32% upon investigation.
                                                                                                       Source: Ferguson, H. and O’Reilly. M. (2007)


Women’s Aid "Making the Links" Study (1995):
Research Description:


This study, undertaken between January and August 1995, is composed of two elements: (i) a nationally representative survey of 679 randomly selected women who were surveyed, via postal questionnaire, about violence against women in intimate relationships, and (ii) information gathered in the North East of Dublin area including a self-administered survey of 240 women carried out in 6 doctors' surgeries to examine the extent and impact of violence against women; group interviews with women living in the area who had experienced domestic violence; and a survey of service providers (e.g. community welfare; social work; public health nurses; community-based voluntary organisations etc.) to examine the extent to which violence against women in the home is a presenting issue.

 (i) National Survey

• 18 per cent of women in intimate relationships reported having experienced violence at some time by a partner or ex-partner.
• 59 per cent of respondents reported knowing a woman who had experienced domestic violence, 61 percent of which were either a friend or relative.
• 13 per cent of women were subjected to mental cruelty; 10 per cent were subjected to physical violence; and 4 per cent were subjected to sexual violence.
• In 66 per cent of cases, the violence was carried out by a current partner, while 34 per cent was carried out by an ex-partner.
• 7 per cent of women were subjected to violence during the previous 12 months.
• 64 per cent of women who experience violence reported that their children had witnessed the violence
• Women who report violence are more likely to report it to a friend (50 per cent) or a relative (37 per cent).
• 20 per cent reported that they had reported the violence to An Garda Síochána.

(ii) G.P. Surgery Survey in Dublin North East Area
• 36 per cent of the 211 women in an intmate relationship reported having experienced violence at some time by a partner or ex-partner.
• 66 per cent of respondents reported knowing a woman who had experienced domestic violence, 89 per cent of which were either a friend or relative.
• 35 per cent of women were subjected to mental cruelty; 25 per cent were subjected to physical violence; and 11 per cent were subjected to sexual violence
• Of those who were subjected to physical violence, 55 per cent of them reported that they were pregnant when the violence occurred.
• 63 per cent of those who had experienced violence reported that it had an impact on their psychological and emotional well being.
• 38 per cent of the same group said that the violence had impacted negatively on their children.
• 63 per cent of those who experieced violence reported it to a friend and 46 per cent to a relative.
• 44 per cent reported that they had reported the violence to An Garda Síochána.
                                                                          Source Kelleher, C., Kelleher, P. and O’Connor, M. (1995)





Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs)


There are 6 Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs), providing the range of clinical, forensic and supportive care that may be required after an incident of sexual violence. These units are located in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Mullingar, Galway and Letterkenny. In addition to these 6 SATUs, there is an out-of-hours service at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick.



Source: National Sexual Treatment Unit (SATU)

Annual Key Service Activity Report 2013. (2014)


An Garda Síochána crime statistics relating to sexual offences and breaches of domestic violence protection orders

Data Collection and Reporting:


(i) Sexual Offences
In 2006, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) assumed responsibility for the publication of recorded crime statistics from An Garda Síochána. The information supplied in these CSO reports refers to criminal incidents known to An Garda Síochána and recorded as such. The data used originate in the Garda PULSE (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) and the FCPS (Fixed Charge Penalty System) systems. Obviously, not every crime comes to the attention of An Garda Síochána, and the Central Statistics Office provides additional information on non-recorded crime through its victimisation surveys.

• The number of sexual offences recorded by An Garda Síochána in 2013 is up 38 per cent from the number recorded in 2009 (1480 to 2047). This rise in the number of recorded Sexual offences, is mainly due to an on-going review of all cases involving alleged sexual offences reported to An Garda Síochána. Some of these offences would have occurred at some distance in the past but were represented on the date of reclassification.
• Looking to sub-categories of sexual offences, over the same period, i.e. 2009 to 2013, instances of recorded "rape of a male or female" rose by 24 per cent (376 to 466).
• In 2013, there were 1342 recorded incidents of "sexual assault (non-aggravated)"  an increase of 33 per cent from the number of such incidents recorded in 2009 (894).
• In 2013, there were 8 recorded incidents of "aggravated sexual assault".
• In 2012, 55 per cent of the sexual offences recorded have been detected (1155). In 2009, 59 per cent have been detected.
• Relevant proceedings were taken for 317 of the sexual offences recorded in 2012. Court proceedings were commenced in relation to 312 offences. Convictions were returned in relation to 76 instances, while proceedings in relation to 207 were still pending.
• In 2012, there were 76 convictions of relevant offences for sexual offences. Only 3 of these convictions were women. The largest percentage (45 per cent) of convictions for these offences were men between the ages of 25-44 years.

(ii) Breaches of Domestic ViolenceProtection Orders

In terms of breaches of domestic violence court orders, the CSO reports incidents recorded, detected and subsequently have court proceedings and convictions for the years 2009 to 2012.
• In 2012, there was a 6 per cent increase in the number of breaches of domestic violence court orders recorded by An Garda Síochána when compared to figures for 2009 (1246 to 1320)
• In the same year, there were 323 convictions for breaches of domestic violence court orders.
• Expressed as a share of " court proceedings commenced", the rate of conviction ranges from 29 per cent (2012) to 33 per cent (2009)
• In 2012, 677 cases of breaches of domestic violence orders that had proceeded to court resulted in non-convictions.


                                            Source: Garda Crime Statistics 2008 to 2012, CSO;  
                                            and Garda Recorded Crime Quarter 4 2013, CSO 2014



The Courts Service

Data Collection and Reporting:

The computerised Criminal Case Tracking System (CCTS), implemented in 2001, is a relational database enabling the Courts Service to record and monitor the progress of criminal court cases, showing the complete lifecycle of these cases. The Criminal Justice Interoperability Pilot Project (CJIPP), introduced in mid-November, facilitates the electronic exchange of information between the Court Services CCTS and the Garda PULSE system.

District Court

Domestic Violence

NOTE: Legislation expanded the categories and therefore the number of people eligible to apply for domestic violence orders between 2009 and 2014.

• In 2014, there were 13,275 applications under the domestic violence legislation at district court compared with 9856 in 2009 - a increase of 35 per cent.
• In the same period, protection order applications increased by 41 per cent (3134 to 4406), safety order applications by 65 per cent (3322 to 5499and interim barring order applications by 28 per cent (545 to 699). Barring order applications decreased  by 6 per cent (2855 to 2671).
• Domestic violence orders made increased in 2014 when compared to 2009. In that year, 7499 orders were made compared with 5763 in 2009 a increase of 30 per cent.  The largest increase related to safety orders made where 2029 were made, a 51 per cent increase on the 2009 figure of 1339.
• Barring orders made decreased from 1106 in 2009 to 877 in 2014, an increase of 21 per cent.
• Interim barring orders made increased by 26 per cent to 569 from 451 in 2009.
• Protection orders made in 2014 also increased from 2867 in 2009 to 4024 an increase of 40%.

Sexual Offences
NOTE: Cases may involve more than one offence and more than one defendant and there may be differing results in respect of offences within one case. Therefore the number of cases may not equate to the number of offences. The information below relates to the number of sexual offences brought before the court.

• The number of cases relating to sexual offences disposed of by the  District Court increased by 55% from 1352 in 2009 to 2092 in 2013.
• The outcomes (by offence) from these 2092 cases were: dismissed (14); Struck out (108); Taken into consideration (46); Fine (34); Peace Bond (3); Disqualification (0); Community Service (4); Probation (38); Imprisonment/Detention (62); Other (1783) - The majority of these relate to cases being sent forward to a higher court for trial.

Circuit Criminal Court

Sexual Offences

NOTE: The information relating to the outcome of trials below relates to counties Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath.

NOTE: Two or more penalties may be recorded against offence, therefore the total number of penalties is not a subset of the total number of offences. An example of a multiple penalty might be suspended sentence and an order to pay compensation.

In 2013, there were 691 sexual offence cases disposed of by the Circuit Criminal Court.
•Guilty pleas were entered in respect of 192 sexual offences with 268 sexual offences going to trial.
Nolle prosequi  was entered in respect of 137 sexual offences and there were other methods of disposal in respect of 94 sexual offences.
•There were acquittals in respect of 136 sexual offences. (See NOTE above)
•There were convictions in respect of 132 sexual offences. (See NOTE above)
•Multiple penalties imposed on these 132 convictions (by offence)  resulted in Community service (6); Suspended sentence (41); Imprisonment; (225); Bond (139); and other (171) which includes taken into consideration; struck out; forfeiture of goods/money/drugs/weapons; disqualification from driving.

High Court: Central Criminal Court 

Sexual Offences

•In 2013, the number of cases relating to rape offences disposed of by the Central Criminal Court was 567.
•In 2013, the number of cases relating to indecent/sexual assault offences disposed of by the Central Criminal Court was 923.
•Guilty pleas were entered in respect of 73 rape offences and 87 indecent/sexual assault offences with 205 rape offences and 351 indecent/sexual assault offences tried, involving a total of 72 trials.
•There were acquittals in respect of 155 rape offences and 146 indecent/sexual assault offences and nolle prosequi in respect of 106 rape cases and 270 indecent/sexual assault cases.
•There were convictions in respect of 35 rape offences and 130 indecent/sexual offences.
•Multiple penalties imposed on conviction of rape offences resulted in Imprisonment part suspended (85) and  Imprisonment (22)
•Multiple penalties imposed on conviction indecent/sexual assault offences Imprisonment part suspended (27) and  Imprisonment (189).


                                                                                      Source: The Courts Services Annual Report, 2013



Health Service Executive Elder Abuse Services:


Senior Case Workers for Elder Abuse (employed in Local Health Offices) assess and manage cases of suspected elder abuse referred to the HSE. All referrals are recorded using a ‘Record of Initial Referral - Form 5’  and a unique identifying number is assigned to each referral so as to allow it to be tracked through the service while maintaining anonymity. Below are statistics relating to the 2,437 referrals of alleged cases of elder abuse made to HSE Senior Case Workers in 2013.


Data Collection and Reporting: 


 Source: "Open Your Eyes" HSE Elder Abuse Services 2013

Women's Aid Statistics 2014


Data Collection and Reporting:


The data collected and reported by Women's Aid is based on information disclosed by women in the process of their contacts with the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline and Support Services. The primary aim of Women's Aid services is to provide support and information to women, and the statistics are based on the callers who have used the Women's Aid Helpline.

                                                 Source: Women’s Aid Impact Report, 2014


According to Safe Ireland:

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) (2014):


Data Collection and Reporting:

In 2014, 14 rape crisis centres (RCCs) utilised the RCNI purposefully designed web-based recording system established in 2004. Intake interview details and personal records of RCC clients are anonymised. A number of background characteristics are recorded with respect to each person, including type of service user, current age, gender, ethnic identity and disability status. This data is then analysed for the production of RCNI's report of annual national statistics.


Source: Rape Crisis Network Ireland

National Rape Crisis Statistics 2013


Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) (2013)


Data Collection and Reporting:

Staff/Volunteers at DRCC accompanied
231 people to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) in the Rotunda Hospital
• DRCC responded to 9,614 genuine counselling contacts, 3,928 of which were first time callers. 4,955 repeat contacts were received in this period.

Of the 512 clients seen by DRCCs Counselling and Psychotherapy Service between Jan. ’13 and Dec. ’13:
• 90  per cent were female clients and 10 per cent were for men.
• 28 per cent of clients were raped or sexually assaulted as an adult by a stranger
• Partner or boyfriend accounted for 14 per cent of these adult rapes
• 55 per cent of clients were raped or sexually assaulted as an adult by other known persons

Of the 284 clients who commenced therapy in the DRCC in 2013 where the reporting status was known, 106 cases were reported  to the Gardaí. 5 cases were tried, resulting in 4 convictions or guilty pleas and 1 acquittal.

• Of the 284 cases where reporting status was known, 90 related to childhood sexual abuse and 194 to adult rape and sexual assault.

• Recent or past rape accounted for 81% of the 106 cases reported to the Gardaí, while childhood sexual abuse cases accounted for 19% of reports.
• Of the 106 cases that were reported to the Gardaí, 18 of them related to past child sexual abuse.
• Of the 106 clients who reported to the Gardaí, 20 of them related to childhood sexual abuse , while 85 per cent had been raped or sexually assaulted by someone they knew.


Source: Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Annual Report, 2013


Amen (2013)


Data Collection and Reporting


Amen provides a confidential helpline, support services and information for men who have or are experiencing domestic violence.

• In 2009, there were 4,868 contacts to Amen from a total of 2263 individuals.
• The helpline is the main source of contact for Amen Support Services; this and other services are listed below.

• 1332 new men contacted the service with 613 new male clients availing of support and assistance from the organisation.

• 2013 saw a 3% increase from the previous year on repeat contacts to the service. 2958 contacts from 1500 individuals were recorded during 2013.

• As expected, 86% of contacts to the service were from men. 3989 contacts were from men whilst 672 contacts were received from women.

• Of those individuals whose ethnicity is known:

- 89% were Irish

- 6% were other European

- 3% African

- 1% Asian

- 1% American

- With 1 contact being received from an Australian national


• 7% of those contacting Amen were informed about the organisation by a statutory agency or by an employee of a statutory agency, for example, An Garda Síochána or HSE employees such as social workers, psychologists and nurses.

• As was the case in 2012, the majority of those contacting the service fell within the 40 – 50 year old age bracket. Of those who disclosed their age, a total of 201 individuals were in this bracket.


- 2013 saw an increase in the number of individuals aged between 18-30 contacting the service. 34 individuals in this age range contacted the service.

- 27% or 156 individuals were aged 30-40.

- 132 individuals or 23% were aged between 50 and 60 years old

- 43 individuals (7%) were aged 60 – 70 years old

- 2% which equates to 9 individuals were aged over 70 years old.


• 2048 disclosures of physical abuse were made to Amen in 2013.

• 2859 disclosures of verbal abuse were made to the service during 2013.

• 2846 disclosures of psychological abuse were divulged to Amen.

• Of those who mentioned they had contact with other organisations:

- 27% stated they had spoken about their experiences with a medical professional such as a GP, Public Health Nurse, nurse, etc.

- 37% had contacted a solicitor and had discussed the abuse they have suffered

- 36% had logged at least one incident of domestic abuse with An Garda Síochána

• In 2013, a total of 28 court accompaniment sessions with 22 individuals were conducted.

• During 2013, 741 men disclosed to support staff that there were children in their families.

Source: Amen Support Services Ltd., Annual Report, 2013.