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Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Find out how to recognise the signs and where to get help.

If you're worried someone might see you have been on this page, you can cover your tracks.

Advice about covering your tracks online —

If you experience or see abuse or domestic violence this may affect your mental health.

Even if it happened a long time ago, it can still affect how you feel today. It can help to get support.


Abuse can take many forms. Some types of abuse are more obvious than others.

The most common types are:

  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse
  • neglect
  • financial and economic abuse

Domestic violence

Domestic violence is also called domestic abuse. It includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

It happens in couple relationships or between family members.

Domestic violence can happen against women and men. It can also happen against children. Anybody can be an abuser.

If someone’s hurting you it can be very scary. It may be difficult to know how to stop it.

No one has the right to be violent towards you, no matter who they are.

Signs of domestic violence and abuse

There are different kinds of abuse. But it's always about having power and control over you.

You may experience more than one form of abuse at any one time. If any of the following feels familiar, you might be in an abusive relationship.

Emotional abuse

You may not think you are being abused if the abuse is not physical. But emotional abuse can have a long-lasting and serious effect on you. It includes insults and attempts to scare, isolate, or control you.

It can include things such as:

  • constant criticism
  • having your things destroyed
  • being controlled by someone
  • always being put down

Physical abuse

The person abusing you may hurt you in many ways.

Physical abuse can happen if you are being:

  • deliberately injured
  • spat on
  • attacked or assaulted
  • pushed
  • punched
  • slapped
  • beaten
  • pulled by your hair

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse happens when someone forces you to have sexual contact against your will.

It can include being:

  • raped
  • touched inappropriately
  • forced to strip or give sexual favours


Neglect happens when a child or young, elderly or dependent person is deprived of:

  • food
  • money
  • somewhere warm and clean to live
  • care or supervision
  • clothing
  • medical care

It can include things such as when a child's parents leave them alone for a long time.

Financial and economic abuse

Financial and economic abuse is when someone stops you having access to essential resources such as food, clothing or transport.

The person may also try to stop you improving your economic status. For example, by preventing you from having training, education or employment.

Coercive control

Coercive control is when someone uses controlling and threatening behaviour to make you dependent on them.

This can include:

  • isolating you from friends and family or support services
  • depriving you of basic needs such as food
  • monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • controlling where you go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • repeatedly putting you down, humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • controlling your finances
  • making threats or intimidating you

In some cases, coercive control can also be used to control an ex-partner.

Learn more about coercive control —

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.

Support for abuse and domestic violence

There are supports available to help keep you safe. Your GP can help by referring you to suitable supports and services in your local area.

Urgent advice: Contact the Gardaí or call 999 if:

  • you are in immediate danger

You can also contact the Women’s Aid national helpline on 1800 341 900

Your local Citizens Information Centre can give you advice on your rights. They will also tell you about the supports and services available in your local area.

Sexual assault or rape

Contact the Rape Crisis Centre if you need to talk to someone in confidence about sexual assault or rape.

Phone 1800 77 88 88

Domestic violence

Women's Aid

Women’s Aid can help you if you are experiencing domestic violence. They give advice on how you can help yourself and others.

Phone 1800 341 900 — 24 hours a day.

Men's Aid

Men's Aid Ireland is a service for men who are experiencing domestic violence.

Phone 01 554 3811 — Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.



Aoibhneas is a women and children’s refuge.

Phone 01 867 0701 — 24 hours a day.


Immigrant Council of Ireland

Immigrant Council of Ireland give advice on migrant women’s rights and domestic violence.


AkiDwA is a national network of African and migrant women living in Ireland. It aims to promote equality and justice.

Phone 01 814 8582


The National Office for Victims of Abuse

The National Office for Victims of Abuse provides assistance, support and advice for people in abusive relationships.

Freephone 1800 252 524

Safe Pharmacy

Get free, confidential support and advice through a pharmacy in your area. Safe Pharmacy is a service that offers a safe place and a safe phone to anyone experiencing domestic abuse.

Find a Safe Pharmacy near you

Older people

Older people who are experiencing abuse in the home can call the HSE information line on 1800 700 700.

The call line is open:

  • Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 5pm

Learn more how to protect yourself from elder abuse

Children and young people


Childline is a confidential support service for children and young people. They take calls about a wide range of difficulties, including abuse.

Phone 1800 66 66 66

Text 'Talk' to 50101.


Parentline provides a free service dealing with child-to-parent violence.

Phone 1890 92 72 77

The call line is open:

  • Monday to Thursday from 10am to 9pm
  • Friday between 10 am and 4pm

You can also report any concerns you have about a child's welfare to the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA).

HSE National Counselling Service

The HSE National Counselling Service is a free and confidential service. It offers counselling and psychotherapy.

This service gives priority to adults who have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood. Adult survivors of institutional abuse get priority.

Call the HSE National Counselling Service on 1800 235 235

Perpetrators of abuse

MOVE Ireland provides support for men who are looking to overcome abusive or violent behaviours.

Call MOVE on 065 684 8689

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025