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06 Dec 2021

Kildare citizens urged to recognise signs of relationship abuse on International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women

Kildare citizens urged to recognise signs of relationship abuse on International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women

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Kildare citizens are being urged to recognise signs of abuse on International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) by domestic violence charities.

The event, which coincides with the UN Day Opposing Violence Against Women, has been brought to national attention by the charity Women's Aid, who today launched a campaign titled Too Into You, in which they call for "Zero Tolerance of Intimate Relationship Abuse among Young People."

Women's Aid has released new research findings on young people’s (aged 18-25) understanding of intimate relationship abuse, and also hosted an online webinar earlier today to discuss them.

The research, which had 500 participants, also highlighted young people’s attitudes to intervening if they think someone they know might be subjected to abuse by a partner or ex. 

Followed by a series of focus groups, conducted by RedC, the study found that the majority of young people (81 per cent) feel a responsibility to intervene if they are concerned a close friend might be experiencing intimate relationship abuse, but most feel unsure of how to recognise and respond to this issue (16 per cent).

The study also found that very few young people believed it is easy to spot the signs of abuse which is the crucial first step in intervening in a relationship where abuse may be present.

For example, young people weren’t sure if a partner getting jealous frequently or looking through their phone and asking for their passwords were warning signs for abuse: these are recognised ‘red flags’ for unhealthy and potentially abusive relationships.

In addition, it found that Half of young people (53 per cent) were not aware of new and important legislation, the Harassment & Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 (also known as CoCo's Law).

Speaking on the findings, Sarah Benson, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: "We asked 'what they think the warning signs of abuse look like, who they think is abused vs who is the abuser, what they think are the causes of someone acting abusively towards their partner'."

"We also assessed their knowledge of support organisations and legislation."

Referring to the finding that most feel unsure of how to recognise and respond to this issue (16 per cent), she said: "Many young people think that signs of abuse can be kept hidden and therefore, harder to spot amongst their friendship group."

"Young people are crucial allies for anyone experience abuse in their age group. 

"However, the findings of this national research show us that while young people feel a responsibility to look out for friends who might be experiencing abuse, they have concerns around making the situation worse and keeping their friends and loved ones safe.

"There is an awareness gap on the causes and warning signs of abuse amongst young people.

"We hope our Too Into You campaign will help young people feel more confident in spotting the signs of abuse and support their confidence in carefully checking in on their peers if they are worried about them.

"If young people are empowered and equipped, they will be able to start the conversation with friends and help them in a supportive and safe way," she concluded.

Kildare domestic violence organisation Teach Tearmainn also commented on IDEVAW, with a spokesperson saying: "One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, so it is extremely important that support services are available to women and children in Kildare who need them."

"During this campaign, Teach Tearmainn will be using our Social Media platforms to highlight the issue of violence against women; our service will also be hosting reflective and self-care events for our service users throughout the 16 days of action."

In a recent statement, Kildare Fianna Fáil Senator Fiona O' Loughlin has gave her thoughts on IDEVAW, saying: "I was shocked to discover that 1 in 5 young women and 1 in 11 young men have suffered intimate relationship abuse."

"The people at the centre of these statistics need our help and support."

She continued: "Abuse can have devastating and life-threatening impacts for the person who is subjected to it and often it’s difficult to know where to turn to for help.

Very often, efforts are made to try and explain the motivation for abusive behaviour in ways that do not hold abusers responsible for their behaviours, which can result in the side-lining of the victim's experience, by focusing instead on ‘fixing’ the perpetrator.

Senator O' Loughlin concluded: "This campaign is so important and I would encourage anyone who is concerned about a loved one to visit TooIntoYou.ie where you’ll find support for intimate relationship abuse, learn how to spot the signs of abuse and find out how to start the conversation with someone you are worried about.''

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, you can find resources to help you by visiting www.Toointoyou.ie or www.womensaid.ie, or you can reach out to the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341900.

Additionally, men can call Men's Aid Ireland's National Confidential Helpline  – 01 554 3811 Monday- Friday 9am -5pm, Saturday & Sunday 10am -2pm, or email them at hello@mensaid.ie.

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