Media Release: The Darker Side of Love Highlighted this Valentine’s Day: Women’s Aid launch the #TooIntoYou National Public Awareness Campaign.

14 Feb 2018

  • What do ‘Controlling Conor’, ‘Triple Text Tom’ and ‘Send Nudes Niall’ have in common? They are all characters in the Women’s Aid #TooIntoYou national public awareness poster and online campaign this Valentine’s Day.
  • 60% of abuse in relationships in Ireland starts before the age of 25.
  • Women’s Aid welcomes forthcoming changes in the Domestic Violence Bill which will see young women covered by domestic violence legislation for the first time and urges support for the new bill by the Labour Party introduced recently in the Dáil which is tackling image based sexual abuse (‘revenge porn’) and other harmful use of technology to harass and stalk women.
  • Entrepreneur Norah Casey and RTÉ broadcaster Bláthnaid Treacy support the campaign to empower young women recognise signs of abuse.

Women's Aid, the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence and dating abuse, today launches its new look #TooIntoYou National Public Awareness Campaign. The three week long poster and social media advertising campaign runs from 14th February to 8th March (International Women's Day). The newly refreshed campaign is aimed at young women, aged 18-25 years old, and highlights abusive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships. To encourage discussion about healthy and unhealthy relationships, the #TooIntoYou campaign features seven characters (including ‘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’) that reflect the insidious and harmful ways that young women experience dating abuse from their boyfriends or exes. The campaign also helps young women to spot the 10 key danger signs of dating abuse and provides information to combat online stalking and digital abuse and is supported by Norah Casey and Bláthnaid Treacy.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says:

“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. However, we know that 1 in 5 women in Ireland experience abuse in relationships and in a national survey on domestic abuse in Ireland, almost 60% 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 1 in every 2 women, aged between 18-25, killed in Ireland since 1996 were murdered by their boyfriends or exes.”

Ms Martin explains why the campaign is being launched on Valentine's Day, she says:

"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. We are clearly asking – what part of love is abuse?"

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:

“If someone had told me when he slapped me the first time that it was never going to be the last I might have made different decisions about marrying a man who abused me. When I shared my own story of domestic violence I wished that back then in my early 20s someone had warned me of the tell-tale signs that I was being seduced into a toxic relationship. 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.”

Ambassador for the campaign, Bláthnaid Treacy, RTÉ TV and radio presenter encourages every young woman to give the quiz a go. Bláthnaid says:

“The dating landscape has changed a lot, even in just the last few years and Women’s Aid has adapted too with the #TooIntoYou campaign. I am honoured to be an ambassador for this campaign as it is specifically aimed at young women. We want to let young women know exactly what dating abuse is and to be able to recognise the signs, so they know whether or not they are getting into a healthy or unhealthy relationship. We are encouraging all women to listen to their intuition, because if it feels wrong, then it probably is wrong. The website TooIntoYou.ie has loads of helpful tips including a relationship health check quiz, which is really enlightening and I think every young woman should take it, whether they're seeing someone or not. With this campaign, we want to start the conversation and for us all to open our eyes and ears to dating and domestic abuse. We want young women to know that we have your back, so if you need a chat, Women’s Aid is just a free phone call away.”

Women’s Aid spoke of some positive developments which should see increased legal protection and recognition of dating abuse in Ireland. Ms Martin explains:

“After years of campaigning by Women’s Aid and others, the Domestic Violence Bill going through its final stages in the Oireachtas, will bring real and significant change for victims of domestic and dating abuse. For years we highlighted the gap in law that meant that young women who never lived with their boyfriends could not avail of safety orders because of the cohabitation rule. This will change under the new Act. We also welcome the Bill recently introduced by the Labour Party in the Dáil that seeks to address the harmful use of technology including in intimate relationships and we urge all members of the Oireachtas to support this Bill. It offers a real solution to issues like image based sexual abuse (also referred to as ‘revenge porn’).”

Speaking directly to young women who might be anxious or worried about their relationship, Ms Martin says:

“You are not alone in feeling something isn't right with your relationship. 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.”

Funding for the #TooIntoYou awareness campaign was cut in 2015 and Women’s Aid relies solely on public support to develop and run the campaign. If you would like to support this vital public awareness campaign please donate via www.toointoyou.ie/donate.

The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 is available 7 days a week. www.toointoyou.ie.

Ends.

For more information contact Christina Sherlock on 087 919 2457 or by email christina.sherlock@womensaid.ie.

Notes for editors/producers:

  • Photographs of the launch have been sent to picture desks from Paul Sharp, Sharppix with the embargo of 00:01 Wednesday 14th February 2018.
  • Bláthnaid Treacy, Norah Casey and Margaret Martin are available for interview, schedules permitting. Please contact Christina Sherlock to arrange.
  • Written testimonies available upon request.
  • Campaign materials available to download at https://www.womensaid.ie/about/campaigns/toointoyou.html 
  • According to Women’s Aid, young women ringing the 24hr National Freephone Helpline have disclosed that their boyfriends are: controlling what they wear and who they see, isolating them from their family and friends, constantly harassing them with texts and messages via social media and uses technology to abuse, control and stalk them. Women have disclosed being physically attacked including being hit, punched, spat at and being thrown against the wall. Women also say that their boyfriends have threatened to kill them or himself and that they have been forced to do sexual things against their will. Women have rang to say that their exes have put sexual videos and photos up on social network pages, escort and pornographic websites without their consent.
  • Women’s Aid has been working to stop domestic and dating abuse in Ireland since 1974 and we are the leading provider of frontline support to women experiencing abuse from intimate partners in Ireland.
  • Our 24hr National Freephone Helpline provides a listening ear, emotional support and practical information to women experiencing abuse from their current or former male partners. It responds to 44 calls per day.
  • The Helpline is also a gateway into our Dublin based face to face and court support services and to other local independent support and refuges around the country.
  • In a national survey on domestic abuse, almost 60% of people who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships experienced the abuse for the first time under the age of 25. (National Crime Council 2005)
  • One in five women over the age of 18 in Ireland has experienced some form of physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse from a male intimate partner. (Women’s Aid, 1995)
  • 39% of young women (aged 18-29) in Ireland have experienced emotional abuse by a boyfriend or partner (FRA, EU Wide Survey, 2014)
  • The same study on violence against women showed that 12% of Irish women and girls over the age of 15 had experienced stalking with 50% being stalked, physically and online, by a partner or ex.
  • 40 women aged between 18 and 25 years old have been murdered in the Republic of Ireland since 1996. Of the resolved cases, 52% of women were murdered by a boyfriend or former partner. (Women’s Aid Femicide Watch 2017)
  • Since the campaign began in 2011, we have had over 75,000 visits to the dating abuse website with the majority of visitors taking the Relationship Health Check. (Women’s Aid, 2018)
  • Norah Casey is a broadcaster and publishing entrepreneur and was formerly a Dragon in the popular television series Dragons’ den. She is a well-known radio and television personality. The 2nd Edition of her book Spark! was published by Penguin in 2017 and her TEDx talks The Cure for Grief and The Courage to leave, detailing her own personal testimony of domestic violence, have been watched by thousands. Last year on the Late Late Show, Norah first spoke publicly about her experiences of surviving domestic violence in her first marriage in her early 20s and has since partnered with Women’s Aid to raise awareness and funds for its dating abuse public awareness campaign.
  • Bláthnaid Treacy has been on our screens from just three months old, when she played Biddy and Miley’s eldest daughter, Denise Byrne on Glenroe, for thirteen years. From then she has gone on to present the IFTA nominated travel show ‘Ó Tholg Go Tolg’ for TG4, she spent four years cutting her teeth on the live magazine TV show ‘Two Tube’ on RTÉ2. Bláthnaid had her first ten part fashion show aired on TG4 “Gléasta Chun Féasta” in the Autumn of 2017 and has joined the ‘Dancing With The Stars’ family, with her own preview show “Can’t Stop Dancing”, on RTÉ One, Friday 8.30pm. You can also hear Bláthnaid take over the national air waves on RTÉ 2FM where she counts down the top thirty songs on the bilingual National Chart Show.