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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. Read advice from Woman's Aid about covering your tracks online.

If you experience or see abuse or domestic violence this may impact on 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 4 most recognised types are:

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 and 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
  • being always 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
  • had your hair pulled

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 does not have enough:

  • food
  • 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.

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.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from elder abuse.

Support for abuse and domestic violence

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

If you are in immediate danger, contact the Gardaí or call 999. 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

If you need to talk to someone in confidence about sexual assault or rape, the Rape Crisis Centre (1800 77 88 88) can help.

Domestic violence

Women’s Aid can help you if you are experiencing domestic violence. They give advice on how you can help yourself and others. You can also contact them 24 hours-a-day on 1800 341 900.

Men's Aid Ireland is a service for men who are experiencing domestic violence. You can call them on 01 554 3811or email
Their helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

Aoibhneas is a women and children’s refuge. You can contact them 24 hours-a-day on 01 867 0701 or email

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, that aims to promote equality and justice. You can contact them 01 814 8582 or email

The National Office for Victims of Abuse provides assistance, support and advice for people in abusive relationships. Freephone 1800 252 524.

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 from Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 8pm.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from elder abuse here.

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.

You can contact them 24 hours-a-day on 1800 66 66 66. You can also text 'Talk' to 50101.

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.

You can call the HSE National Counselling Service on 1800 235 235.

page last reviewed: 30/09/2018
next review due: 30/09/2021

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