New research surveying young Irish people has revealed a sobering reality about the nature of their relationships: 20% of young people under the age of 25 have experienced physical, sexual, and online intimate partner abuse. The report, entitled ‘One in Five,’ was published by Women’s Aid in collaboration with Red C on the United Nations Day Opposing Violence Against Women and “reveals stark and disturbing findings,” according to Women’s Aid CEO Sarah Benson.
Launched with President Michael D. Higgins and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee in attendance, the research showed that 51% of women who had experienced abuse in an intimate relationship were younger than 18 when the abuse began. Nine out of ten women who reported abuse detailed the experience of emotional abuse – behaviour which functions to establish a power imbalance in the relationship, often with detrimental psychological effects more serious and long-term than physical violence.
Over half of those women who reported intimate partner abuse detailed experiences of physical abuse, with 1 in 3 women experiencing severe forms of violence such as choking, punching, and burning at the hands of a current or former partner. The experiences recorded in the report contributes evidence to a trend revealed the recent leak of thousands of images of image-based sexual abuse on social media channels. Under investigation by the Garda Commissioner, the incident highlights the worrying prevalence of online abuse in young people’s lives and relationships.
1 in 2 women who have experienced intimate partner abuse have endured online abuse, the report found. Online abuse refers to harassment, the monitoring of social media accounts by an abuser, stalking through an online platform, the taking or sharing of intimate images without consent, or the threat to share these images. Alongside detailing the devastating effect online abuse can have, CEO of Women’s Aid Sarah Benson discounts non-legal and non-culture changing methods of ending this form of abuse: “It [is not] a reasonable solution to ask a young person to ‘opt out’ or switch off their own social media presence, as this is so deeply integrated into their social lives. The victim should not suffer further for another person’s abusive actions.”
The full report can be accessed at toointoyou.ie, Women’s Aid can be contacted at 1800 341 900 and by texting ACTION to 50300, you can donate €4 to support their work.