Day Ten: 60% of abuse starts before the age of 25

Posted on December 04, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Day 10

In a national survey on domestic violence in Ireland, almost 60% of people who were severely abused said that the abuse started when they were under 25 years old.

Women's Aid hears from young women when their relationship starts to feels unhealthy, often after something has happened that may have made women feel unsafe or uncomfortable. When it feels like he is just 'too into you'. We also hear from women who have been living with domestic violence for some time that the signs that their partners were possessive and controlling were there from the start. But to them and their family and friends, it appeared like they were just 'so into her'.

Our experience and national and international research show that young women are at risk from violence and abuse from their boyfriends. In dating relationships violence and abuse are already a feature but are often not recognised as such by the young woman herself, or her friends.

We also hear from young women about the increasing use of different forms of technology to control and monitor women, which you can read more about here.

The Women's Aid 2in2u campaign highlights the way that a controlling boyfriend's attention can often be overwhelming at the early stages of a relationship, and encapsulates how it feels to be a young woman experiencing controlling behaviour. The campaign addresses the myth that abuse only occurs in older and more established relationships, where women are married or living with, and/or have children with their abusive partner.

The 2in2u campaign raises awareness of unhealthy behaviours in a relationship in the hope that young women, if informed, might get help before the relationship becomes more established, and it has become harder to leave or get support.

That is why we have put together a Relationship Health Check Quiz at

We hope that if a young woman is uncomfortable or worried about any aspect of her relationship with her boyfriend, and hears or sees one of our advertisements, she will contact the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline (1800 341 900) or talk to someone she trusts.

The poster shown here is one of three awareness posters for the campaign. See all the posters and other awareness raising material here.

What is dating abuse?

Dating abuse can happen to any woman at anytime and it means that your boyfriend does already/may try to:

  • control what you wear and who you see
  • isolate you from family and friends
  • bombard you with texts, check all of your text messages, email or social networking accounts to keep tabs on you
  • physically attack you including hitting, punching, spitting and throwing you against walls
  • threaten to kill you or himself
  • rape you or force you to do sexual things against you will

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.

For more information and warning signs of an abusive relationship click here.

Further Statistics

  • In a recent USI survey of students at third-level institutions in Ireland, 1 in 5 women surveyed experienced some form of unwanted sexual experience, with 11% experiencing unwanted sexual contact.
  • 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 Female Homicide Media Watch, Sept 2014)
  • 25% of teenage girls surveyed in the UK had experienced physical violence by their boyfriends and 1 in 6 girls disclosed being pressurised into sexual intercourse. [Barter et al (2009) Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships, London: NSPCC]

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