Women’s Aid has launched a free instant messaging service for women suffering from dating abuse or who feel unsafe or worried in their relationships.
The service was launched as part of Women’s Aid three week long #TooIntoYou National Public Information and Awareness Campaign which is running from 14th February to International Women’s Day on March 8.
Recent new laws under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 mean that women experiencing abuse in dating relationships can apply for legal protection from abuse.
However, Women’s Aid believes that many young women are still unaware of the change or how to go about getting the protection and support they need.
To help combat this they are distributing a free ‘The Law is On Your Side’ guide along with the new messaging service.
While the instant messaging service is only available from 7pm -10pm on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s on www.tointoyou.ie, women who fear for their safety can also call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 which is available 7 days a week.
According to CEO of Women’s Aid, Sarah Benson, “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 them to see what is happening to them as abuse.”
She pointed to EU research which shows that one-quarter of women in Ireland have experienced physical and sexual abuse, while 39% of women aged between 18 and 29 have experienced emotional abuse by a partner.
“A stark reminder of this risk is that one in every two women aged between 18 and 25, who were killed in Ireland since 1996, were murdered by their boyfriends or exes,” Benson continued.
Women’s Aid are also concerned about the “slow pace” of political action to address the harmful use of technology and image based sexual abuse in intimate relationships.
“We are calling on whoever forms the next Government to immediately address the need for a real legal solution to issues like image based sexual abuse often incorrectly referred to as ‘revenge porn’. Until this happens, young women remain unprotected by law,” Benson siad.
To young women who might feel unsafe or worried in their relationships Benson said “your partner does not have the right to control and abuse you. You should not have to worry about how he will react to what you do. Dating abuse is wrong and no one deserves to be threatened, beaten or be in fear for their safety.”
Image Credit: Sonja Tutty