The 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline has been jointly launched by the Health Minster, Edwin Poots, Justice Minister, David Ford, and Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland.
The Helpline, which began operating in 2005, is managed by the Women’s Aid Federation NI (WAFNI). Set up for victims of domestic violence, the Helpline has now expanded to offer a support service to victims of sexual violence as well. The service includes a confidential telephone, email and text service which is available to all women and men affected by domestic and sexual violence.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Poots said: “The 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline plays an important role in the fight against domestic and sexual violence and I am pleased to be able to jointly launch the Helpline today.
“It is widely believed that, as well as reported cases of domestic and sexual violence, there are many more cases that remain unreported. Whether through intimidation, abuse or violence, it is appalling that victims feel unable or unwilling to confide in someone about what they have to endure.
“The 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline can help break that silence by providing a confidential support service to all victims, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality. The Helpline, jointly funded by my Department, the Department of Justice and Department for Social Development through the NI Housing Executive, is another example of government’s continued commitment to tackling the terrible crimes of domestic and sexual violence and to provide support to victims and their families.”
David Ford said: “This 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline is a major achievement in our collective response to these terrible crimes. For many that initial contact with the Helpline is the first step on the journey to secure protection and a safe environment free from fear and harm. Through providing robust information and signposting victims to the most relevant and effective support services, The Helpline seeks to empower victims.
“As Justice Minister I hope that this support, which is available to both men and women, will help provide them with the determination to work with the criminal justice agencies in order to obtain justice for the terrible crimes they have been subjected to.
“Whilst the Government financially supports the Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline, I am aware it is the volunteers who are vital in providing the valuable service. I want to thank them for the support they provide to some of the most vulnerable in society.”
Minister McCausland said: “As the Minister responsible for the voluntary and community sector I have great appreciation for the work Women’s Aid Federation, the fore running voluntary organisation in Northern Ireland addressing domestic violence. This 24 Hour helpline will be a lifeline to many victims. I am pleased that together with my colleagues in the Executive, funding has been made available to this support network. I hope this initiative will help contribute to the decline of domestic and sexual violence in our community.”
The 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence is available on 0808 802 1414.