7th April 2021
Women’s Aid’s latest campaign, #TooIntoYou, launched in February 2021, is a campaign targeted at young people (aged 18-25) to help them identify unhealthy patterns in relationships and to aid them in reaching out for help. Research conducted by Women’s Aid has shown that: ‘1 in 5 young women, aged 18-25, experience intimate relationship abuse including emotional, physical and sexual abuse.’
Women’s Aid, set up in 1974, is an Irish organization dedicated to raising awareness and aiding women who are victims of domestic violence. They provide a variety of services to women who are experiencing domestic and intimate relationship abuse, including court accompaniment, advice and information services, and housing support services. Another critical part of the work that Women’s Aid is engaged in is raising awareness of domestic violence, through campaigning and advocating on behalf of their clients in policy creation.
There are a number of features of this campaign which make it specifically relevant to young people. The first striking aspect of the campaign is it’s clear and effective design in its leaflets, its social media and its website. Upon typing ‘Too Into You’ into Google, the first result is a dedicated website, laid out in a clear manner, with a number of different tabs depending on the information you are looking to acquire. These tabs include simple infographics, such as the ‘Spot the Danger Signs’ poster, to legal advice, to first-hand accounts of intimate relationship abuse written by young women.
One of the most effective aspects of their website is the feature that allows visitors to complete a quiz designed to determine whether their relationship is healthy or unhealthy. The quiz is compiled of 10 different questions that tackle four key areas of relationship abuse:
- Sexual abuse: ‘Have they ever forced or pressured you to do anything sexual that you didn’t want to do?’
- Physical abuse: ‘Do they ever hit, kick, or shove you?’
- Online abuse: ‘Do they send you constant messages checking up on you when you’re not with them?’, ‘Do they ever go through your phone or laptop to see who you’ve been talking to?’, ‘Have they ever posted or shared any explicit images or videos of you online?’,
- Coercive control/emotional abuse: ‘Does your partner complain that you don’t spend enough time with them?’, ‘Do they say anything about how you dress?’, ‘Do you feel like you are being watched or monitored by your partner?’, ‘Do you feel afraid to disagree with them in case they get angry?’, ‘Do you feel afraid to break up with them for any reason?’
This feature is a quick and effective method to allow site visitors to determine the healthiness of their relationship; ideal for a younger audience. The quiz draws attention to behaviours that may not initially seem like relationship abuse, such as coercive control or online abuse. The quiz also allows for answers that appear ‘less extreme’ – answers that some users may not believe to be intimate relationship abuse such as ‘Sometimes, they get annoyed at me if they don’t know what I’m up to’ as opposed to ‘Yes. They are always messaging me – they have to know what I’m doing and where I am every minute of the day’.
When completing the quiz and choosing only these ‘middle ground’ answers, the same answer pops up as if one was to choose the most ‘extreme’ answers each time ; ‘If it feels wrong, it probably is’. This message is crucial to communicate to young people – that no matter the severity of the behaviours, the behaviours are still wrong in themselves, and that no one should feel even slightly unsafe or worried in a healthy and respectful relationship.
The campaign also highlights that intimate relationship abuse and violence can occur in all types of relationships, even non-cohabiting partners – another aspect of the campaign which makes it especially relevant to young people. Their CEO, Sarah Benson, states: “We need to remember that you do not need to be living with a partner for them to target and abuse you when this can be achieved through digital and online means. The abuse can beam right into your home. This kind of abuse can disproportionately impact young adults.’
“Many mainstream depictions of domestic violence depict older couples living together, with the abuse occurring in the home. Most young couples, between the ages of 18-25, do not cohabit, and so abusers in these relationships often come up with different means of controlling their partner.”
Online abuse, by nature, can be all consuming and feel inescapable – in the modern age you are rarely without your phone, meaning that your abuser has access to you at all times. The #TooIntoYou campaign incorporates these important points into their campaign, making it especially relevant to young people. On the ‘Legal Protection’ section of the #TooIntoYou website, the opening sentence explains the changes that have been made to the Domestic Violence act which make a huge impact to young people in abusive relationships; ‘Recent changes to the Domestic Violence Act mean that you can now apply for a Safety Order in any intimate relationship – you do not have to be married or living together.’
The campaign makes an emphasis on the different mechanisms which abusers use when they do not live with their victims – specifically examining the issue of online coercive control. According to Women’s Aid, 1 in 5 young women have suffered intimate relationship abuse, and out of these women, 50% experienced online abuse. On one of the #TooIntoYou posters, one victim’s account of online abuse reads: ‘What had been several texts a day became an avalanche and it came to the point that I felt sick every time I heard the buzz of the mobile because I knew it was probably him.’. The campaign highlights different signs of both online abuse and general coercive control throughout their website, including under ‘The Ten Key Signs of Intimate Abuse’. This infographic is extremely helpful as the majority of it deals with non-traditional types of relationship abuse – coercive control and online abuse – types of behaviours that younger people may not view as relationship abuse.
The campaign also has an entire section on their website dedicated to keeping yourself safe as a young person online. This section is presented in a very clear format, with the introductory paragraph beginning with the words ‘Online abuse is real abuse, and it’s not ok’. It includes explanations of how to keep accounts and your phone private, how to block abusers on varying social media sites, and procedures for what victims can do if they feel their account has been hacked/spied on.
The #TooIntoYou campaign deals with the recent issue of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA). There has been a worrying rise in IBSA among young people over the last few years. Research conducted by Women’s Aid has shown that; ‘Half of young women abused by a partner experienced online abuse including having intimate images taken and shared without their consent.’ This troubling phenomenon came to light in the most recent ‘nudes leak’ in which a discord server used by up to 500 Irish men was exposed to be sharing over 140,000 intimate photographs of young women and underage girls (according to the Victims Alliance). This horrific discovery led to the creation of new legislation in December 2020, the ‘Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020’, nicknamed ‘Coco’s Law’, which makes the act of sharing a person’s intimate images without their consent a crime. The #TooIntoYou campaign directly tackles this phenomenon. They deal with IBSA in their quiz, with Question 5; ‘Have they ever posted or shared any explicit images of videos of you online?’.
The site also has an entire section dedicated to giving victims a step-to-step guide on what to do if their intimate images or videos have been shared without consent. This includes how to report content, whether it be on a pornographic site or a social media site, and how to report these instances to the Gardaí. This advice goes on step further, also addressing those who receive unsolicited explicit images – such as the sharing in male group chats of intimate images of women.
Overall, this campaign makes an extremely effective attempt at reaching, interacting with, and educating its intended younger audience. It brings awareness to types of abuse that are rampant among young people, such as online abuse, image-based sexual abuse, and coercive control in a clear and effective way.
If you have been affected by any of the issues spoken about above, do not hesitate to get in touch with Women’s Aid for advice and support.