One in five young people aged 18-24 never heard of coercive control. New Women’s Aid website aims to change this.

  • One in five young people aged 18-24 in Ireland have never heard of the term ‘coercive control’.
  • One in six young women aged 18-25 in Ireland have been subjected to coercive control by a current partner or ex. 
  • Women’s Aid launches new website to teach young people about intimate relationship abuse and provide support to young women facing abuse. 
  • New public awareness campaign launched to raise awareness of relationship abuse and teach young people, in particular young women, about the red flags on an unhealthy relationship.

Thursday 10th November 2022: Young people aged 18-24 in Ireland are the least aware of the term coercive control according to recent findings from Women’s Aid and Allianz, with over one in five (22%) claiming to have never heard the term before. Almost one in four (23%) believe that coercive control is not a criminal offence in Ireland, even though it is a crime since January 2019.   Women’s Aid research tells us that coercive control against young women is very common in Ireland. One in six young women aged 18-25 have been subjected to coercive control in an intimate relationship.  The organisation is highlighting these statistics as it launches a new website to teach to teach young people about intimate relationship abuse and a new public awareness campaign launched to raise awareness of the red flags on an unhealthy relationship.

 Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid says:

“It is very concerning that many young people are not aware of coercive control considering the prevalence of relationship abuse and coercive control against young women in Ireland. Coercive control completely traps you in an abusive relationship and can have a serious impact on young women as they begin to make their way in the world. It can be incredibly damaging to young women’s emotional and physical well-being, and can result in them giving up work or education and becoming completely isolated from friends and family.”

 Ms Benson continues:

“Coercive control can feel like invisible chains and a fear that creeps into all elements of your life. It deprives you of your freedom and independence, and reduces your ability to move freely in your life and make decisions for yourself. One example of this is stalking, where someone monitors their partner or ex to intimidate them. Over half (55%) of young women abused in Ireland have experienced stalking and/or harassment. For many young women this stalking can take place online with 46% of young women abused having their online platforms monitored. With this type of coercive control moving online, it can feel like there is no escape from it. That’s why the Criminal Justice Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 is so important, because it includes clearer and stronger provisions relating all forms of modern communications in the existing offence of Harassment and the new proposed offence of Stalking.”

 Ms Benson concludes:

“There is much work to be done to combat the lack of knowledge around coercive control and red flags amongst young people, and equally to encourage them to actively seek help without fear of judgement. That’s what Women’s Aid is trying to do with our #TooIntoYou campaign with young people, to tell them this behaviour is serious, it is a crime but you don’t have to suffer in silence.” 

 Women’s Aid has today launched their #TooIntoYou campaign to raise awareness of relationship abuse and teach young people, in particular young women, about the red flags on an unhealthy relationship – while emphasising those contrasting indicators of healthy behaviours in intimate relationships. They have also just launched a dedicated website for young people to provide information and support around being in an abusive relationship. 

 Mary Hayes, who leads the Too Into You project at Women’s Aid, explains why campaign is so important for young people in Ireland: 

“From our work with young people and our research, we know that many young people don’t realise that abuse can happen in your first relationship and that you don’t have to be living with someone for them to be abusive towards you. If it’s your first relationship it can be difficult to know what acceptable behaviour, especially if you have nothing to compare it to. If young people don’t know how to spot the early warning red flags of abuse, they are at risk of finding themselves drawn into, and being trapped in abusive, coercive and controlling relationships. We also know that many young women suffer in silence and don’t tell anyone about the abuse they are subjected to.” 

 Ms Hayes continues:

“That’s why our TooIntoYou campaign is so important, so young people can learn about the red flags for abuse and spot them early on in a relationship, before things get more serious and it is harder to leave. It can also help young people who may be using unhealthy behaviours in early relationships to recognise this, and instead choose alternative and more healthy, mutual, and respectful ways of relating to a partner. We hope the #TooIntoYou campaign empowers young people with the information they need to have healthy relationships and know where to get support should they ever feel worried.” 

 Ms Hayes highlights:

“At our dedicated website young people can learn the red flags of abuse, take our healthy relationship quiz, and learn how to help a friend they are worried about. Anyone needing support or information can chat to the Women’s Aid Helpline Team on the free and confidential instant messaging support service at, or call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900.” 


Campaign photos featuring Sarah Benson and Mary Hayes will be made available by Paul Sharp by 12pm, 10th November 2022. Email or call 0866689087 

 For more information contact Caoimhe O’Connor on 086 0652422 or email  or Christina Sherlock on 087 9192457 

 Notes for Producers/Researchers:

  • Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, is available for interview.
  • Mary Hayes, Too Into You Project Lead, is available for interview. 
  • Case studies from survivors of abuse available in text and recording. 
  • In 2022, Women’s Aid and Allianz, in collaboration with RedC, carried out research on awareness of and attitudes towards domestic abuse. This research found that:
    • Those aged 18-24 are least aware of the term coercive control, with just over 1 in 5 (22%) claiming to have never heard the term before. On the back of these lower levels of awareness, younger cohorts are also less knowledgeable of the supports and resources that are available for those seeking help.
    • Just over 1 in 5 18-24 year olds believe that coercive control is not a criminal offence in Ireland, which is has been since January 2019.
    • 64% young people agree that a victim blaming culture or stigma are the biggest barrier for victims seeking help or support. Over half of young people (55%) agree that lack of knowledge of supports available acts as a barrier to seeking support.
  • In 2020 and 2021 Women’s Aid, in collaboration with RedC, completed two nationally representative studies of 500 young women and men in Ireland (aged 18-25) on intimate relationship abuse. Based on the findings of these studies Women’s Aid published:
  • Key Statistics from the Women’s Aid study on intimate relationship abuse amongst young people aged 18-25 in Ireland:
    • 3 in 5 young people have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, intimate relationship abuse. 
    • 1 in 5 young women and 1 in 11 young men have suffered intimate relationship abuse.
    • 1 in 6 young women and 1 in 13 young men have suffered coercive control by a partner or ex-partner.
    • 51% of young women affected experienced the abuse under the age of 18.
    • Of the young women who had suffered abuse 1 in 2 experienced online abuse and 32% experienced ‘severe’ physical abuse, including punching, strangulation, burning).
    • Stalking:
      • 1 in 2 (55%) of the young women abused experienced stalking and/or harassment with 36% having experienced this more than once and 21% having experienced it on a weekly or daily basis.
    • Stalking online: 

Of the 1 in 2 women who had experienced online abuse using digital technology:

  • 47% had been harassed by phone/text/email/private messages.
  • 22% of women had been monitored or stalked through online platforms.
  • 11% had GPS tracking installed on their device 
  • 3% had Spyware software installed on their device.
  • Of the young women who were abused 84% said that the abuse had a severe impact.
  • Men are more likely to reach out for support than women (84% vs 68%).
  • 32% of young women never spoke to anyone about the abuse they experienced.
  • 4 in 5 young people believe that many of those experiencing abuse do so in silence and don’t seek support.
  • 41% of young people believe that women are most commonly victims of abuse, 29% did not believe this. This contradicts established international evidence including our own national findings, which showed that intimate relationship abuse against women is much more common, with 1 in 5 young women compared to 1 in 11 young men having suffered abuse by a current or former partner.
  • 50% of young people are not aware of specialist supports for intimate relationship abuse.
  • In the EU, 10% of women aged 18 to 29 reported cyber stalking since the age of 15, this is the highest rate of cyber stalking of any age group (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2012: )