Women’s Aid Northern Ireland: A Her-Story


In the midst of The Troubles, the first refuge in Northern Ireland opens in Belfast to help support women fleeing domestic abuse.


With no facilities in Derry, local women took action and squatted in vacant 24 Pump Street, creating the first refuge West of the Bann.


Women’s Aid groups are formally established in Belfast, Foyle & Coleraine.

The same year, a House of Commons Select Committee recommends one refuge unit per 100,000 capita.


Belfast, Foyle & Coleraine Women’s Aid groups formed the Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation.

A second larger refuge opens in Belfast, and the first refuge on the North Coast opens in Portrush.


Domestic Violence Proceedings (NI) Order implemented. The order put in place provisions which allowed domestic violence to apply for personal protections orders and exclusion orders.


Derry Women’s Aid set up a much needed Advice Centre to help support Women. Belfast Women’s Aid opens a second refuge in the North of the city.


Omagh & North Down Women’s Aids are established to help local women.

Hidden Violence – Battered Women in NI by Eileen Evason is published.


Newry Women’s Aid opens its doors to women in the city and the surrounding areas.


Omagh Women’s Aid moves to Market Street, in the centre of the town.

Belfast Women’s Aid opens a third refuge in the city to help support more women and children.


Newry Women’s Aid establishes the first refuge in the area.

The groundbreaking Police Response to Wife Assault by P.Montgomery & V.Bell was published by Women’s Aid Federation NI.


Craigavon Women’s Aid is established.

Omagh Women’s Aid opens a refuge in the area.


Fermanagh Women’s Aid is established to support women in the County.

Belfast Women’s Aid open their Malone Road support centre.


Cookstown & Dungannon Women’s Aids are established to support more women in Co. Tyrone.

The groundbreaking research Bringing It Out Into the Open by Monica McWilliams & Joan McKiernan is published.


Women’s Aid Federation set up the 24 Hour Women’s Aid Regional Telephone Helpline.

Ballymena Women’s Aid is founded.

Fermanagh Women’s Aid open a refuge in Enniskillen.


The Omagh bomb causes destruction and disruption at the Women’s Aid Centre in Market Street.

Newry Women’s Aid open essential Resource Centre in the city. Refuges open in Ballymena, Lisburn & Craigavon.


In an increasing digital world, Women’s Aid Federation launch their website.

A brand new propose built refuge opens in Omagh.


Women’s Aid Federation launch multi-lingual information leaflets.

This year saw a brand new purpose built refuge for women and children in Newry.



Belfast Women’s Aid officially becomes Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid.

Ballymena Women’s Aid opens two Resource Centres for women in Ballymena and Antrim.


Coleraine Women’s Aid changes it’s name to Causeway Women’s Aid.

The Law Reform Order gives added protection to victims of domestic violence, takes account human rights issues and increases criminal penalties for breaching protective civil orders.


Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid rebuild their South Belfast Refuge.

Crossing Borders: Preliminary Research on Human Trafficking in NI was launched by Women’s Aid Federation NI.


You, Me & Mum – a ten week programme for mothers supporting children & young people who have lived with domestic violence, is developed by Women’s Aid Federation.




Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne & Newtownabbey (ABCLN) open Naomi Centre their newly refurbished resource centre.


Foyle Women’s Aid open the Secret Garden in the grounds of their refuge.

A pilot project with Women’s Aid established support for female victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Northern Ireland.


Women’s Aid NI took part in the One Billion Rising campaign, which was part of a global action to End Violence Against Women.


Women’s Aid Federation NI launch Our Place – Safe Space, a five year strategy for children and young people who experience domestic violence.


Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid won the contract to support all adult female potential victims of human trafficking in Northern Ireland.


Our See, Hear, Act strategy is published. It lays out a road map to realising these rights and aspirations for children and young people who experience domestic abuse. It contains the very detail necessary to ensure that these children live in safety and stability.


Armagh Down and Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid launch the NI Pilot IRIS scheme. This scheme provides specialist domestic and sexual abuse training to medical staff to help patients access the appropriate onward services.


The COVID-19 Pandemic hits the world and demand for our services greatly increase. We launched our Unlock Your Lockdown campaign to let women know we are here to support them even in lockdown.


After many years of campaigning, the Domestic Abuse & Civil Proceedings Bill is passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. This bill makes coercive control a crime in NI and comes into force in Spring 2022.

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