Published Thursday, 07 March 2013
Would you know if your friend was in an abusive relationship? Could you tell if she needed help dealing with a controlling partner?
With one in five women in Ireland abused by their partners, Women's Aid and Benefit are touring universities across the country to focus on the early warning signs of a relationship turning bad - and to prevent a new generation of abuse.
Generous gifts and text messages from a partner can seem positive but when that contact becomes too much, it could be the start of an unhealthy relationship.
Victims of abusive relationships live in fear of their partner's moods and temper, but the charity is keen to stress that abuse may not be physical.
Young women have called the Women's Aid helpline after seeing their 2in2u campaign, drawing attention to early warning signs of abusive behaviour have said: "If only I had heard that message when I started going out with him".
Talking to the Young Women’s Workers has been really good because they can help me because my family and friends don’t understand and it’s hard to tell them what I’ve been through.
Domestic abuse victim
Margaret Martin from Women's Aid said they want to raise awareness of young women suffering abuse at the hands of those closest to them.
"Almost 60% of people who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships experienced the abuse for the first time under the age of 25," she explained, breaking down the myth that older women are the sole victims of domestic abuse.
The charity offers refuge and support services for those who need it and they're reaching out to young women to explain that a controlling partner is not normal, and should not be accepted.
"I've been supported by the Young Women's Worker for six months and I feel more confident now as I have learnt a lot about my unhealthy relationship," explained one young woman affected by domestic abuse.
"I have made changes in my life and things are definitely getting better."
At Benefit we share the belief that it is every woman's fundamental right to feel safe.
The Benefit University Tour finishes up at Queen's University, Belfast on Thursday with makeovers, a brow bar, and makeup hints and tips.
So as well as supporting Women's Aid, they're hoping to provide a boost to student's self-esteem.
"With games, make-uppers and fun activities we will bring Benefit's unique style to each campus and raise essential funds which will help Women's Aid continue their imperative work here in Ireland," said Benefit's Julie Strang.
Women's Aid NI telephone: 0800 917 1414
Women's Aid responds to over 11,000 calls annually on their helpline which operates 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
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