Media Release: Young women at high risk of men’s violence in their own intimate relationships

14 Feb 2022

  • Young women, aged 18-25 in Ireland, are at high risk of men’s violence and abuse in their own intimate relationships, says Women’s Aid’s Too Into You campaign.
  • Intimate relationship abuse is a highly gendered issue. Women’s Aid research shows that 1 in 5 young women, aged 18-25, are subjected to intimate relationship abuse including emotional, physical and sexual abuse by a current or former male partner.
  • Newly launched Women’s Aid report Yes It’s Abuse: Young people’s understanding of & attitudes to intimate relationship abuse indicates the need to promote young people’s understanding of intimate relationship abuse.
  • The report identifies the need for greater awareness to help young people challenge the social norms and behaviours that justify and enable men’s violence, and to model healthy, mutual, positive and respectful relationships.
  • Action is needed now to prevent and combat all forms of men’s violence against women including intimate relationship abuse.
  • Women’s Aid is also launching a ‘factsheet’ summarising the findings of the 2 national survey’s which inform the Yes It’s Abuse: Young people’s understanding of & attitudes to intimate relationship abuse report, as a resource to promote conversation and support community action on combating intimate relationship abuse.

 Monday, 14th February 2022:  Today, on Valentine’s Day, Women’s Aid, a national organisation supporting women subjected to domestic violence, launches their three week long national Too Into You public awareness campaign, for young people who are subjected to abuse in an intimate relationship. Following recent incidents nationwide, there is an urgency and heightened awareness of the need to tackle all forms of male violence against women. Women’s Aid research shows that young women aged 18-25 are at risk of male violence and abuse in their own intimate relationships with 1 in 5 young women having suffered relationship abuse by a current of former male partner, compared with 1 in 11 young men.  The focus of the Too Into You campaign is to raise awareness of intimate relationship abuse as part of broader conversations on men’s violence against women, sexism, consent, and sexual violence.

Women’s Aid CEO, Sarah Benson, says:

“Recent discussions on men’s violence against women have been focused largely on women’s safety in public spaces and in their communities. However; we also need to remember that young women are commonly at risk of male violence not just by strangers, but in their intimate relationships with men. Intimate relationship abuse is a highly gendered issue and is alarmingly common. Young women in particular are subjected to coercive control including emotional, physical, sexual, and online abuse by intimate partners in relationships including casual and even short term relationships. No matter how ‘serious’ or lengthy the relationship is, if it is abusive the impact of abuse can be severe, long lasting and life changing for young women.”  

Ms Benson continues:

“Women’s Aid research tells us that the abuse young women are subjected by current or former male partner’s is both insidious and all encompassing. Of the 1 in 5 young women who suffered abuse, 9 in 10 were emotionally abused, and 1 in 2 were targeted with abuse online, many had also been physically abused, and coerced into sex. Some had been raped. Over half of the young women abused by a male partner experienced the abuse under the age of 18 as minors.  One incredibly worrying finding is that almost 1 in 3 of the young women affected never told anyone about the abuse. This is something we need to pay attention to, as can have a severe and long lasting impact for young women as they start to make their way in their world. A controlling or violent partner can be a huge setback at the beginning of their adult life. Young women may not have had many other intimate relationships to compare a potential or actually abusive relationship with and therefore find it difficult to read the signs.”

Women’s Aid newly launched report Yes It’s Abuse: Young people’s understanding of & attitudes to intimate relationship abuse indicates an urgent need to work with young people on intimate relationship abuse. 

Women’s Aid Too Into You Project Lead Mary Hayes outlines:

“From our research we know that there is a strong desire amongst young people to keep each other safe and free from abusive intimate partners. However, because of the insidious nature of intimate relationship abuse which can build up subtly and over time, there are some gaps in young people’s understanding of how to spot warning signs, the root causes of abuse, where to get support and how to help friends they may be worried about. We need to build a national community-based collaboration involving everyone working together to increase awareness of abuse, to challenge those behaviours and attitudes that normalise and minimise abuse - but also, vitally; to model the healthy, mutual, positive and respectful relationships which are those that we aspire to for everyone in their friendships and their intimate relationships.”

Juliana Shiel, a survivor of intimate relationship abuse and Too Into You Ambassador, explains the importance of the Too Into You campaign and how Women’s Aid can be a lifeline when you feel most alone:

“When you are abused by a partner it can feel like you are trapped, like you have nowhere to turn. You can second guess yourself and feel like you are going crazy. But this is not your fault. Young people need to know that no one has the right to make you feel anxious or scared in your relationship. All young people deserve to have healthy, loving, and respectful relationships. The great thing about Too Into You is that it can help you spot early on if your relationship is healthy, so you don’t become trapped in a relationship that is much harder to leave later on. If you are worried at all about how your partner treats you, you can chat to the Women’s Aid helpline team on the Instant Messaging Service available at TooIntoYou.ie, it’s completely free and confidential. You don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Holly Carpenter, model, influencer and Too Into You Ambassador, will be releasing a number of videos on her Instagram in support of the campaign, including a conversation with Women’s Aid CEO Sarah Benson:

“Unfortunately abuse is common, and it’s often forgotten, minimised or explained away. But it is serious, it can take place in your very first relationship and can affect how you are treated in your relationships as you get older. That’s why I’m delighted to lend my voice to the Too Into You campaign so young people know that they are not alone. Too Into You is such an empowering and important resource for young people because it educates them on abuse, what abuse can look like and offers support if something just doesn’t feel right in their relationship. It’s so important for young people to look out for each other. Too Into You isn’t just for those who are being abused, if you have sisters, friends, or anyone you are worried might be in trouble, you can learn how to check in friends and how to support them.”

At Toointoyou.ie young people can discover the signs of intimate relationship abuse, take our relationship quiz and check out our tips for keeping yourself and your friends safe. Women’s Aidhopes that anyone affected by intimate relationship abuse or anyone concerned about a friend or loved one will reach out for support to the 24hr National Freephone Helpline or Instant message support service on www.toointoyouie or www.womensaid.ie.    

Ends.

 Campaign photos featuring Holly Carpenter and Juliana Shiel will be made available by Paul Sharp by 00.01, 14th February 2022.  Email paul@sharppix.ie or call 0866689087

For more information contact Christina Sherlock on 0879192457 or email christina.sherlock@womensaid.ie

 Notes for Producers/Researchers: