Today, Monday 14th February 2011, Women's Aid launches a ground breaking national public awareness campaign targeting young women experiencing abuse and violence in dating relationships. The 2in2u campaign highlights unhealthy and abusive behaviours in a relationship in the hope that young women, if informed, might get help before the relationship becomes more established, and it has become harder to leave or get support. It also encourages young women to listen to their instincts with its strap line - 'If it feels wrong, it probably is.'
Speaking ahead of the launch Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, said that, "The 2in2u campaign highlights the way the controlling boyfriend's attention can often be overwhelming at the early stages of the relationship, and encapsulates how it feels to be a young woman experiencing abuse. Again and again, we hear from women living with domestic violence that the signs that her partner was possessive and controlling were from the start. But to her and those around her, it appeared like he was just so into her."
Ms Martin added, "There is a myth in society that abuse only occurs in older and more established relationships, where women are married or living with, and/or have children with their abusive partner. But this is not the case. Our experience and national and international research show that young women are at risk from violence and abuse from their boyfriends. In many 'going out' or 'dating' relationships, abuse is already a feature but is often not recognised as such by the young woman herself, or her friends."
The campaign is backed by Irish actress Charlene McKenna who is currently starring in the RTE Drama, 'Raw'. Speaking in support of the campaign, Charlene said: "I'd just like to say that I was delighted to be asked and that I think it's brilliant to bring awareness of dating abuse to young women as I know, myself included, that it's not something you associate with our age group and yet it as prevalent as it us with older people."
Ms Martin explained why the campaign was being launched on Valentine's Day, "We are highlighting the hidden reality of many young women's relationships at a time traditionally associated with love, romance and celebration. In contrast to typically 'softer' Valentine's messages our hope is that in calling attention to the darker side of relationships at this time that the campaign will have a high impact."
For many young women dating abuse means that their boyfriend: controls what she wears and who she sees, isolates her from family and friends, constantly bombards her with texts and uses technology to abuse, control and stalk her. He may physically attack her including hitting, punching, spitting and throwing her against walls. He may threaten to kill her or himself, force her to do sexual things against her will. She is living in constant fear of his moods and temper.
Ms Martin concluded: "Dating abuse can happen to any young woman and it is important to start talking about what are healthy and unhealthy behaviours in relationships. That is why we are launching a new website, www.2in2u.ie, which includes a 'relationship health check' quiz. We hope that young women who are anxious or worried about any aspect of their relationship will contact the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 or talk to someone they trust."
For more information contact Christina or Laura on 087-9192457 or 01-8684721.
Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900
Open 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
Notes to editors/producers: