1 in 5 young women experiencing intimate relationship abuse in Ireland
"Over a third of young women who were abused reported that they never told anyone about what happened."
1 in 5 young women have experienced intimate relationship abuse in Ireland.
A new survey conducted by Women's Aid has shown that the pandemic is increasing the risk of online abuse, cyber harassment and dangerous intimate relationships among young women.
The research shows that 1 in 5 women aged between 18 and 25 experience intimate relationship abuse including emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Half of these women have experienced online abuse including image based sexual abuse, otherwise known as "revenge porn."
51% of those experiencing abuse for the first time are under the age of 18.
Despite the recent commencement of a new law making image based sexual abuse and cyberbullying illegal, Women's Aid is concerned that the pandemic is still making it difficult for young women to know the signs of abuse.
“We know that the abuse that takes place online can be devastating and ‘all-consuming’ given the ‘always on’ nature of life online," CEO Sarah Benson says.
"Women tell us how it is utterly draining, can often feel inescapable, and how it can be very difficult to block a persistent abuser from making contact.
"Some women report constant harassment and monitoring through digital means; having appalling lies about them shared on their personal social media accounts, or intimate images of them being shared without consent online. Today we want to highlight that these actions are now crimes, whether done to cause intentional harm or if the perpetrator is simply reckless of the havoc they may bring to another innocent person’s life.
"We need to remember that you do not need to be living with a partner for them to target and abuse you when this can be achieved through digital and online means. The abuse can beam right into your home."
Benson adds that such forms of abuse can impact different people in different ways. Some may feel isolated from friends and family, while others report suicidal ideation.
"The impact of intimate relationship abuse can mean a young woman dropping out of college or not being able to take up work, experiencing depression, anxiety and attempting suicide," she says.
"What is even more worrying, is the fact that over a third of young women who were abused reported that they never told anyone about what happened because of fear, stigma and shame. It is a very difficult and lonely place to be, and we want that to change for the better.”
To raise awareness of these signs of abuse, Women's Aid point to their #TooIntoYou campaign, encouraging people to beware of the signs of unhealthy relationships both on and offline, and to seek help when necessary.
You can find out more about #TooIntoYou here.
If you have been affected by any of the details of this story, you can contact Women's Aid's 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900.