Social worker calls for domestic violence leave to help women in Cork refuge

Social worker calls for domestic violence leave to help women in Cork refuge

Social worker Caithríona O'Neill at Cuanlee Kyrl’s Quay, Cork.. Picture Dan Linehan

A SOCIAL worker from a women’s refuge in Cork is calling on companies to offer domestic violence leave for employees fleeing abuse.

Caithríona O’Neill said that a number of women staying at city centre refuge Cuanlee are continuing to go out to work every day in spite of tremendously difficult circumstances. She explained that a number of their service users are leaving the refuge each morning to avail of co-working spaces. Ms O’Neill added that organisations should be making a conscious effort to include domestic violence victims in their company policies.

Members of Parliament approved a bill in New Zealand back in 2018 that gave domestic abuse survivors, and those caring for victims, 10 days off work on top of regular leave.

She opened up about some women who had been in contact with their outreach team and who remain working at home in abusive environments. With this in mind, Caithríona said it’s important that exceptions from the “work from home” rule are made for women in danger.

“I’m always in awe of the strength of the women here who are still keeping down jobs,” she said.

“Some that I have spoken to say their bosses have been very understanding. They have given them the time which makes all the difference to a person in this situation.

 Social worker Caithríona O'Neill at Cuanlee Kyrl’s Quay, Cork.. Picture Dan Linehan
Social worker Caithríona O'Neill at Cuanlee Kyrl’s Quay, Cork.. Picture Dan Linehan

“Domestic abuse follows people into the workplace and it’s in everyone’s interest to protect those at risk.

“Vodafone Ireland brought in a policy that supports employees who have experienced domestic violence or abuse, last year that gives 10 days additional leave to those affected. It would be good to see other companies follow their lead,” she added.

“Women enjoy going to work because it’s a break from the refuge. It gives them a sense of identity. We take for granted what some people have to go through who still remain in stressful and high pressured jobs. How they can balance that is phenomenal.”

“Domestic violence has no boundaries or barriers. It can affect any type of woman in any type of professional role.”

She said that a number of women they work with have been encouraged by their abusive partners to quit work.

“Women have said they have been inundated with abusive calls at work which also has a huge effect on productivity. A lot of the time they will do anything they can to get them to stop working. If that person doesn’t have their own income it makes them easier to control and isolates the victim further.”

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