A third of women who reported domestic violence to Gardaí found them 'unhelpful'

One in five women in Ireland experience domestic violence.

Charity Women’s Aid has warned that it receives 50 calls to its helpline every day from women facing emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse.

The organisation fielded over 19,000 domestic violence or child abuse cases last year.

Its annual report, released today, also warned that a third of women who reported domestic violence to Gardaí last year found them 'unhelpful.'

Speaking at the launch this afternoon, mother-of-three Jessica Bowes said she received life threatening injuries after being assaulted by her ex-partner in 2015.

She said the justice system let her down.

She said the assault left her with multiple facial fractures, a broken nose and shattered cheeks and eye sockets.

"I could have been spared that assault if he had been arrested on any of the occasions that I called the guards to my house," she said.

"The guards need to start enforcing the orders that are currently in place.

"That is where it all begins is with Garda protection. That is what victims need to get away."

The report highlights the level of abuse against women and children in Ireland.

Women's Aid director Margaret Martin said the majority of the thousands of complaints the organisation receives relate to emotional abuse.

"Their partner may be threatening to jump in a car and drive off and kill himself and the children and she will have to live with that," she said.

"A lot of women would be experiencing stalking.

"Both physical stalking - following her maybe to work, always being there when she comes out of the gym - as well as online."

The report also shows that over a third of women who reported domestic violence to Gardaí last year found them 'unhelpful.'

Ms Bowes said her abusive partner used to tell her that a barring order was " just a piece of paper."

"That is all it was because it didn't hold the weight of the Justice system behind it," she said.

"That is what I needed for me to leave, was garda protection."

Women's Aid is urging anyone experiencing domestic violence to call the 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900.

You can also access the website on womensaid.ie.

Reporting from Paul Quinn ...