Contrary to belief, domestic and dating abuse is common – and we all know someone who has experienced an abusive relationship in some form.
Whether or not you've been directly impacted by an ex or current partner who's behaviour is unacceptable – know you aren't alone and there is help out there.
Women's Aid has launched a new campaign to highlight their services and support available to any woman experiencing domestic violence and dating abuse.
The campaign comes as a new Domestic Violence Act provision, extending eligibility to young women in dating relationships, has still not commenced.
The woman's charity says it is continuing to support young women on its 24hr National Freephone Helpline and One to One Services who are being left unprotected and at risk because of these legal delays.
The awareness campaign #TooIntoYou aims to reach 18-25 years old women, to highlight the warning signs of abusive and controlling behaviour in their intimate relationships.
Women's aid want to get the nation talking about the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.
In campaign, we meet eight characters, ‘Snooping Simon’, ‘Controlling Conor’, ‘Send Nudes Niall’, ‘Needy Neil’, ‘Dramatic Dan’, ’10 missed calls Ben’ and ‘Triple Text Thomas’ and ‘Why don’t you love me, Luke’.
Each of them reflects real situations we have all found ourselves in and it highlights the harmful ways that we could encounter dating abuse from our boyfriends or exes.
To get the conversation flowing about the issue of violence against women, a 70ft banner has been hung at Liberty Hall for three weeks, in the heart of Dublin.
Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid explained why there is such a crucial need for this campaign.
“Dating abuse is a significant issue for our frontline support services and research has shown that while young women can be at even higher risk of abuse in a relationship than their older counterparts, it can be difficult for young women to see what is happening to them as abuse," she said.
"However, 39 percent of young women (aged 18-29) in Ireland have experienced emotional abuse by a boyfriend or partner and in a national survey on domestic abuse in Ireland, almost 60 percent of those who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships first experienced it when they were under the age of 25."
"A stark reminder of this risk is that one in every two women, aged between 18-25, killed in Ireland since 1996 were murdered by their boyfriends or exes,” she added.
One of the leading voices behind the #TooIntoYou campaign is entrepreneur Norah Casey. Norah sees the campaign as an important measure to prevent abuse and relates her own experience of domestic violence at the hands of her first husband in her 20s.
Norah says: “This campaign is a shout out to young women everywhere about some of those early signs that a relationship might not be good for them. Help us to spread the word far and wide, every woman should know the signs."
"Prevention is far better than the consequences, tragically sometimes fatal, for women who are trapped in abusive and violent relationships.”
Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, authors of Oh My God What a Complete Aisling are backing the campaign and spoke about including the issue of dating and domestic abuse in their latest book:
“While researching The Importance of Being Aisling we were shocked to discover just how prevalent dating abuse is in Ireland. No one deserves to feel unsafe or threatened in their relationship and it’s absolutely vital that women can spot the red flags early on. We fully support Women’s Aid’s #TooIntoYou campaign and hope that it will help those affected find the support they need to become safe.”
If you are anxious or worried about your relationship, Ms Martin says you aren't alone in feeling something isn't right in your relationship, and highlights some of the signs that indicates you're facing potential abuse.
“Women in dating relationships contact Women's Aid every day because they are afraid of their boyfriends. Your boyfriend does not have the right to control and abuse you. You should not have to worry about how he will react to what you do."
"You may feel like you are 'walking on eggshells' and living in fear of his moods and temper. Dating abuse is wrong and no one deserves to be threatened, beaten or be in fear for their lives. We want women to know that they can speak to someone in confidence on our 24hr National Freephone Helpline (1800 341 900) to help make sense of what’s going on in their relationship,” she added.
If you're experiencing any type of abuse at the hands of your partner, there are people here to help and there is hope of getting out of the situation.
The Women’s Aid 24 hour National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 is available seven days a week.
You can find more information about the new campaign here.