The internet is never shy of an awareness campaign, one of the latest, the black dot campaign was, at first glance a positive campaign to highlight domestic abuse. Sufferers of such would draw a black dot on their inner palm to let people subtly know that they are feeling unsafe or are in trouble, however many people pointed out that in creating a huge social media campaign, the subtle dot could cause far more harm to anyone who’s partners saw the campaign along with their partners inked hand. The campaign was quickly shut down after this realisation, adding to the list of fad awareness campaigns that often last less than a month.
In Ireland alone there are much more effective, long lasting campaigns and organisations that aim to help people in abusive relationships, and these types of campaigns are the ones that should be getting coverage.
Women’s Aid, which has been working in Ireland since 1974 have launched a campaign called 2in2u. The campaign is aimed at helping young women in relationships to be aware of what is safe and what is sinister.
The 2in2u campaign has its own website of the same name, which provides a list of danger signs and a case study of a young woman’s abusive relationship to help others to recognise harmful behaviour.
The ‘2in2u’ website also provides an online quiz which asks short questions about your partner’s behaviour to determine whether you have a healthy relationship. Margaret Martin, the director of Women’s Aid explained how the questions were chosen “There were a number of focus groups with women who had been abused, so the questions were garnered from real lived experiences.” Martin goes on to explain that many women in different situations take the quiz sometimes simply because they are curious of the questions “a lot of young women have told me that they’ve taken it and were really happy to see their relationship is fine. For other women, they might take the quiz because there is something they’re concerned about and that helps open up an awareness that something’s not right.” By asking questions about attitude and behaviour, it helps young girls to know that there are so many forms of harm including mental, financial and emotional abuse.
Martin stressed that women should know that abuse doesn’t have to be physical “coercive control means controlling behaviour and isolation, a partner saying ‘you shouldn’t really wear that dress’ or ‘you should be wearing shorter skirts’ or, ‘don’t go out with your friends tonight stay in with me’ which leads to friendships being eroded.”
With the campaign being aimed at young women in particular, there is a large focus on the influence of social media in relationships and how it can often become another platform for abuse. The website lists ‘having phone calls and texts monitored, being stalked on social media by current or ex boyfriends, and being photographed and filmed without consent, sometimes having sex, and having it uploaded to the internet’ as some of the abuse women have disclosed to Women’s Aid in recent years.
It is important to create awareness and protection for young women. Because many of them are in what is referred to as ‘dating relationships’ they do not have the same protection as women who are, or were living with their partner or have a child with their partner. “We are continually trying to bring this to the attention of people who can change the legislation, it’s about recognising the pattern or situation where there is abuse and providing protection into the future as well as dealing with what’s happened in the past.”
2in2u seems to strike a chord with women of all ages “A lot of women in twenties, thirties and forties and fifties have said, ‘I really wish there was a campaign like this when I was younger’ and It makes such a difference for us to know that.” Martin said.
Women’s Aid have an aim to protect and inform women of all ages about domestic abuse and have done so for over 20 years. Across their website is reassurance that they are there for you, and written several times on their site are the words ‘if it feels wrong, it probably is’. Because in reality we are meant to feel happy and safe in all of our relationships and if you don’t feel that way, those feelings need to be addressed.