The Women’s Aid research on intimate relationship abuse and young people showed that one-fifth of young women at least one amongst three violence forms (physical, sexual, or psychological) in their lifetime. While one over five women are victims of abuse, half of them said to have experienced abuse online. These shocking statistics show the alarming levels of abusive experienced by young women in Ireland.
According to the research, young men were less likely to suffer abuse from their partner, compare to women. “One in eleven men experience abuse from female partners and 22 per cent from male partners; but what’s more troubling than anything was the fact that 51 per cent of young women reported that their abuse started under the age of 18”, Women’s Aid CEO Sarah Benson revealed.
Emotional abuse was the most common type of abuse reported by women last year, with 12,742 disclosures made. The 2019 Annual Report conducted by Women’s Aid also highlighted the devasting impacts of emotional abuse on women. While it does not cause the physical marks, it is difficult for the survivors to identify and seek support from system court.
Women’s Aid organization also concerns about the impact of online image-based abuse on young women, and abusers who were using technology to stalk and harass. The abuse that taking place online can be particularly devastating given the ‘always on’ nature of digital life. “It is draining, can often feel inescapable and can be difficult to block a persistent abuser from making contact through online means.” Sarah explained.
Gender-based violence has serious consequences on both the physical and mental health of women. Through the survey, the impacts on young women are multiple and severe. Sarah Benson said that: “The majority reported to have been suffering from low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, and became isolated due to the withdraw of visiting family and friends. Some people disclosed that they attempted to suicide or hospitalized through the consequence of physical abuse.”
The stigma around women telling their story of abuse is another problem. There was 32 per cent of young women have never told anyone about their experiences. According to Sarah, fear and shame are kind of stigma that hold them back from speaking up about their abuse.
To address these issues, the recognition that violence against women is an undeniable should be widely known. The host highlighted the fully resourced public awareness to prevent men and women from becoming victims or perpetrators of abusive relationships. Raising awareness is also needed to let young people know that there are law and special organizations protecting them from intimate relationship abuse. Regard to online and digital abuse, Women’s Aid encourages women who have been harassed to contact Gardaí to explore whether there is criminal proceeding can be taken.
Talking about the urgent requirements, Sarah affirmed: “We really do need a further in-depth research to understand the level of intimate relationship abuse experienced by young people aged 18 to 25 from a larger sample size to learn more about the prevalence, the types of abuse that they are experience and for the knowledge about the impacts”.