THE number of reports made to gardaí about domestic violence has increased by more than 40% in west Cork this year.
Figures from gardaí show that there has been a 42% increase in reports in the period since January 1.
There has also been an increase in the Cork North Garda Division of 18%, and in Cork City Garda Division of 16%.
The reports relate to incidents of assaults and breaches of domestic violence orders.
Gardaí believe the increase is influenced by a highly publicised campaign during the Covid-19 crisis, highlighting to victims of domestic violence that support and help is available.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said there have been instances involving domestic assaults in the period since the lockdown was introduced but stressed that domestic violence cases are not restricted to spouses or partners, but also include children, or siblings.
Gardaí stress that figures were previously low in the West Cork area, resulting in a higher percentage increase.
Exact figures on the number of incidents reported are not yet available.
Safe Ireland, which represents 38 frontline domestic violence services, said the services are preparing for a surge in calls for help now that the first phase of the easing of the lockdown is underway.
Co-CEO Sharon O'Halloran said: "Our services have been open and have been operating throughout this crisis. As we begin to open up our country, they are available, now more than ever.
"Many women may have been living with intolerable control and abuse over the past two months.
"It is important that they know that we are here in their communities and that we can support them to be safe in their own homes, or help re-home them if this is what is needed.
"Over the lock-down period, many services reported that they were seeing a higher proportion of more serious cases of physical and sexual assault within intimate partner relationships.
"They had also seen an increase in abuse of older women by adult male children.
"Many reported that they were working with more single women, with lower numbers than usual of women with children."
An emergency fund to help victims of domestic violence was set up by Safe Ireland.
The agency said that 130 women and 264 children have been supported through the fund, to help them find safety.
* Support organisations include OSS Cork 1800 497 497; Mna Feasa, Cork city (021) 4211757, and the National Sexual Violence Helpline 1800 778888. The following national resources are available to victims of domestic violence: Legal Aid Board Helpline 1890 615200 or 01 6469600;
Women’s Aid Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900; Male Domestic Abuse Advice Line 1800 816588; Men’s Aid Ireland 01 554 3811.