Some 12% of adults have experienced abuse or neglect since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey has found.
Furthermore, 32% of adults say they have experienced abuse or neglect during their lifetime.
The survey of 1,000 adults found that during the course of the pandemic, cyber abuse has become more common. In recent months, it has become the third most common form of abuse. Prior to March, it was the fifth most common form.
Emotional and psychological abuse were the most common types of abuse overall, both before and during the pandemic.
The survey also found that women, particularly younger women, were more likely to have experienced abuse than men.
The incidence of abuse was also higher among people with a lower socioeconomic status, unemployed people and separated/divorced/widowed people.
The results of the RED C survey were launched as part of a public awareness campaign by Safeguarding Ireland, an organisation that works to promote the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
According to the organisation's chairperson, Patricia Rickard-Clarke, these findings show both the alarming incidence of abuse during the pandemic and the changing nature of abuse.
"The COVID-19 pandemic brings challenges for us all and raises increased risks of abuse. Safeguarding Ireland's message, particularly for vulnerable adults, is to keep your independence and keep making your own decisions as much as you can while keeping safe. Ask for help when you want it and only from trusted people.
"From services, we have heard that scams and coercion online have increased during the pandemic and this research confirms that. We need to be very aware of, and not engage with, online and digital abuses, such as financial smishing, fake friends and cyber bullying," she commented.
Ms Rickard-Clarke also expressed concern about the continued high prevalence of emotional and psychological abuse during the pandemic, especially among those living in "restricted domestic settings".
"The Domestic Violence Act should be extended so that it is not limited to persons who are in intimate relationships, but includes the coercive control by another regardless of the relationship," she added.
For more information on Safeguarding Ireland, click here.
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