WOMEN’S Aid, the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence and dating abuse, launched its new look #TooIntoYou public awareness campaign on St Valentine’s Day. It will run until March 8, International Women’s Day.
The campaign is aimed at young women, aged 18 to 25 years old, and highlights abusive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships. To encourage discussion about healthy and unhealthy relationships, the #TooIntoYou campaign features seven characters (including ‘Controlling Conor’, ‘Send Nudes Niall’, ‘Needy Neil’, ‘Dramatic Dan’ and ‘Triple Text Thomas’) that reflect the insidious and harmful ways that young women experience dating abuse from their boyfriends or exes.
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. It is supported by Norah Casey and 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 one in five 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 one in every two women, aged between 18 and 25, killed in Ireland since 1996 were murdered by their boyfriends or exes.”
One of the leading voices behind the #TooIntoYou campaign is entrepreneur Norah Casey. Norah sees the campaign as an important measure to prevent abuse and relates her own experience of domestic violence at the hands of her first husband in her 20s. Norah says,
“If someone had told me when he slapped me the first time that it was never going to be the last I might have made different decisions about marrying a man who abused me. When I shared my own story of domestic violence, I wished that, back then, in my early 20s, someone had warned me of the tell-tale signs that I was being seduced into a toxic relationship. This campaign is a shout-out to young women everywhere about some of those early signs that a relationship might not be good for them. Help us to spread the word; every woman should know the signs. Prevention is far better than the consequences, tragically sometimes fatal, for women who are trapped in abusive and violent relationships.”
Ambassador for the campaign, Bláthnaid Treacy, RTÉ TV and radio presenter, 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. The website TooIntoYou.ie has loads of helpful tips, including a relationship health check quiz, which is really enlightening. I think every young woman should take it, whether they’re seeing someone or not.”
Women’s Aid spoke of some positive developments that should see increased legal protection and recognition of dating abuse in Ireland. Ms Martin explained,“After years of campaigning by Women’s Aid and others, the Domestic Violence Bill, going through its final stages in the Oireachtas, will bring real and significant change for victims of domestic and dating abuse.”
Women’s Aid relies solely on public support to develop and run the #TooIntoYou awareness campaign. The Women’s Aid 24-hour National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 is available seven days a week.
The 10 signs of dating abuse:
• He complains about your friends or says you spend too much time with them.
• He insists on picking your clothes and comments on how you look or dress.
• He sends you constant texts checking up on you when you are not with him.
• He complains that you spend too much time away from him and insists on you spending all your time with him.
• He has a bad temper and you feel afraid to disagree with him.
• He hits, kicks or shoves you or threatens to hurt you.
• He is jealous and suspicious and accuses you of cheating on him all the time.
• You feel afraid to break up with him because he has told you he will hurt you or himself.
• He puts pressure on you to do sexual things that have made you feel uncomfortable or has raped you.
• He demands your passwords and checks your emails and social networking accounts to see who you have been talking to.
TooIntoYou.ie has a relationship health check quiz, which every young woman should take, whether or not they’re seeing someone.