Media Release: Courts still turning away young women experiencing dating abuse leaving them at risk says Women’s Aid.

19 Oct 2018

  • New Domestic Violence Act provision extending eligibility to young women in dating relationships has still not commenced.
  • Women’s Aid 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 delays.
  • 70ft Banner at Liberty Hall is urging people to stand up to dating abuse and support the campaign.
  • What do ‘Snooping Simon’, ‘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 October.
  • The campaign is supported by Oh My God What a Complete Aisling authors Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, business woman Norah Casey, Blathnaid Treacy RTE broadcaster and the new presenter at Xposé, and Trade Unions, NGOs and other organisations.

Friday 19th October 2018: Women's Aid, the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence and dating abuse, today launches its #TooIntoYou National Public Awareness Campaign. The three week long poster and social media advertising campaign runs throughout the month of October.  The campaign also takes over Liberty Hall with 70ft banner putting the issue of violence against young women at the heart of Dublin.

The 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 eight characters (including ‘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’) 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 Oh My God What A Complete Aisling authors Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, business woman Norah Casey, Bláthnaid Treacy, RTÉ broadcaster and the new face at Xposé and Trade Unions, NGOs and other organisations.

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, 39% 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% 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 highlights the unacceptable situation that is continuing to leave young women unprotected and at risk:

“Our National Helpline and court support staff are still in the unacceptable position of having to tell young women who are experiencing all forms of dating abuse that they cannot avail of legal protection under the Domestic Violence Act.  After campaigning by Women’s Aid and others, the Domestic Violence Act promises 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 has changed under the new Act.  However, despite being passed by the Oireachtas and signed into Law by President Michael D Higgins in May this year, the provisions have yet to be commenced.  Until this happens, young women are still being left unprotected and left at risk.”

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.”

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

“If it feels wrong, then it probably is wrong. The website TooIntoYou.ie has loads of helpful tips including a relationship health check quiz and I think every young woman should take it, whether they're seeing someone or not. With this campaign, 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.”

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.”

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.”

Government 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. We have received donations from the Soroptimists International Dublin, Norah Casey and the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards and other private foundations.

Tina Donohoe, President Soroptimist International of Dublin says:

"Soroptimist International of Dublin are delighted that they were able to mark their 80th celebration year with a substantial donation to Women’s Aid to support the #ToointoYou campaign this year. The aims of Women’s Aid, and this campaign in particular, fit so well with the Soroptimist mission to ‘Educate, Enable and Empower’ women and girls."

However, Women's Aid is appealing for public support.  So 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 on 19th October 2018.
  • 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 50 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)
  • 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 95,000 visits to the dating abuse website with the majority of visitors taking the Relationship Health Check. (Women’s Aid, October 2018)