Media Release New Guide on Safety Orders for Young Women Experiencing Dating Abuse launched by Women’s Aid.

13 Feb 2019

Embargoed: 00.01, 14th February 2019

  • New laws brought in at the start of the year mean that women experiencing abuse in dating relationships can apply for Safety and Protection orders.
  • Women’s Aid launches a new guide to Safety Orders in Dating Relationships as part of the #TooIntoYou campaign.
  • Dating abuse campaign launches on Valentine’s Day to highlight the darker side of love.
  • ‘Know the signs of dating abuse’ urges RTÉ’s Can’t Stop Dancing presenter Bláthnaid Treacy
  • 60% of abuse in relationships in Ireland starts before the age of 25.
  • It’s not revenge. It’s not porn. It’s abuse. Urgent action still needed to protect young women from online abuse, including ‘revenge porn’.

Thursday 14th February 2019: Women's Aid, the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence and dating abuse, today launches its #TooIntoYou National Public Information and Awareness Campaign. The three week long poster and social media advertising campaign runs from 14th February to 8th March (International Women's Day).  New laws brought at the start of the year under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 mean that women experiencing abuse in dating relationships can now apply for Safety and Protection orders.  However, Women’s Aid believes that many young women are still unaware of the change or how to go about getting the protection they need. The organisation launches its new free online “Guide to Safety Orders in Dating Relationships” today as part of the Too Into You campaign.  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 RTÉ presenter 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?"

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 has 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 Act 2018 has brought 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. We are very concerned, however, at the slowed pace of the passing of Bill introduced last year by the Labour Party in the Dáil that seeks to address the harmful use of technology including in intimate relationships We urgently need 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.

Notes for editors/producers:

  • Photographs of the launch have been sent to picture desks from Paul Sharp, Sharppix with the embargo of 00:01 Thursday 14th February 2019.
  • “Guide to Safety Orders in Dating Relationships” can be downloaded at https://www.toointoyou.ie/legal-protection/  
  • 10 dangers signs of dating abuse available at https://www.toointoyou.ie/spot-the-danger-signs/
  • Written testimonies available at https://www.toointoyou.ie/read-their-stories/
  • A more detailed guide to all of the changes in the Domestic Violence Act 2018 is available at https://www.womensaid.ie/download/pdf/womens_aid_guide_on_the_domestic_violence_act_2018.pdf
  • 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)
  • 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 2018)
  • Since the campaign began in 2011, we have had over 100,000 visits to the dating abuse website with the majority of visitors taking the Relationship Health Check. (Women’s Aid, 2019)