MEDIA RELEASE New Online Dating Abuse Support Service launched as part of Women's Aid Valentine's Day Campaign.

13 Feb 2020

  • Dating abuse, stalking and the 'darker side' of relationships highlighted by the Women's Aid #TooIntoYou National Campaign this Valentine's Day.
  • Women’s Aid offers a new guide to legal protection and a new Instant Message Support Service for victims of dating abuse. 
  • Many young women are feeling unsafe and worried about their relationships. 
  • 39% of young women (aged 18-29) in Ireland have experienced emotional abuse by a boyfriend or partner, according to EU research.
  • Young women remain unprotected from image based sexual abuse, often referred incorrectly to as 'revenge porn', and Women's Aid urges the next Government to immediately address the gap in law.

Thursday 13th February 2020: Women's Aid, a 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 campaign runs from 14th February to 8th March (International Women's Day).  Recent new laws under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 mean that women experiencing abuse in dating relationships can apply for legal protection from abuse.  However, Women’s Aid believes that many young women are still unaware of the change or how to go about getting the protection and support they need.

The organisation is distributing its new free 'The Law is On Your Side' guide today as part of the Too Into You campaign.  Women's Aid is also launching its instant messaging service to provide support online. The Too Into You 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.

Sarah Benson, CEO 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, according to EU research 1 in 4 women in Ireland experience physical and sexual abuse and 39% of young women (aged 18-29) in Ireland have experienced emotional abuse by a boyfriend or partner. 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 Benson explains why the campaign is 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. We are asking – what part of love is abuse?"

Women’s Aid spoke of urgent action needed to protect women from image based sexual abuse. Ms Benson explains:

“We are very concerned at the slow pace of political action to address the harmful use of technology in intimate relationships. We are calling on whoever forms the next Government to immediately address the need a real legal solution to issues like image based sexual abuse (often incorrectly referred to as ‘revenge porn’).  Until this happens, young women remain unprotected by law.”

Speaking directly to young women who might feel unsafe or are worried about their relationship, Ms Benson 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 partneres. Your partner 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. Dating abuse is wrong and no one deserves to be threatened, beaten or be in fear for their safety. We want you to know that you can chat to someone in confidence on our new Instant Messaging Support Service or call the 24hr National Freephone Helpline (1800 341 900) to help make sense of what’s going on in their relationship.”

The new Instant Messaging Support Service is available 7pm-10pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday on www.toointyou.ie and the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 is available 7 days a week. 

Notes for editors/producers:

  • Photographs of the launch have been sent to picture desks on 13th February 2020 2pm from Paul Sharp, Sharppix.
  • “The Law is On Your Side” guide can be downloaded at https://www.womensaid.ie/assets/files/pdf/the_law_is_on_your_side_guide.pdf 
  • 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 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.
  • 1 in 4 women over the age of 15 in Ireland has experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse. (FRA, EU Wide Survey, 2014)
  • 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 2019)
  • 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)
  • Since the campaign began in 2011, we have had over 150,000 visits to the dating abuse website with the majority of visitors taking the Relationship Health Check. (Women’s Aid, 2020)