Low self esteem makes women more vulnerable to abusive relationships

Low self esteem and a lack of information are important indicators of vulnerability to abuse in relationships, according to the latest research on the subject.

A local study reveals that women who have experienced domestic violence say that receiving information on dating abuse as teenagers could have helped them to recognise the early signs of an abusive relationship.

The research on dating abuse was undertaken by by NUI Galway MA Family Support UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre student, Deirdre Nalty.

It was carried out in conjunction with COPE Galway Waterside House, the city based refuge for women and children experiencing domestic violence as part of a community-based research partnership.

The research was conducted in 2016 and involved holding focus groups with women who had experienced domestic abuse, an analysis of feedback from the participants, and an exploration of how the Healthy Relationships workshop fits with the aims of the SPHE (Social, Personal & Health Education ) programme currently being delivered in schools. COPE Galway Waterside House delivers Healthy Relationships Workshops to transition year students in second-level schools in the city and county to raise awareness about healthy and unhealthy relationships.

All the women interviewed as part of the research felt that, had they been given the Healthy Relationships workshop when they were younger, they might not have ended up in abusive relationships.

Ciara Tyrrell of Cope Waterside House says peer pressure, wanting to fit in, and loneliness can all contribute to young people being vulnerable to abuse within a relationship.

“Despite feeling uncomfortable, the pressure to conform can be overwhelming,” she says.

Recent research shows a dearth of information in both European and Irish literature regarding the issue of dating abuse in teenage relationships. It also states the current dangers surrounding internet use is an added difficulty for young people when trying to leave an abusive relationship.

This Valentine’s week, COPE Galway Waterside House is highlighting the importance of raising awareness among young people of the signs of an abusive relationship.

“Our aim is to support students to identify the warning signs of an abusive relationship, in particular the more subtle controlling behaviours that are not so obvious in the initial stages of a relationship.”

The service also offers information to third level students and recently took part in NUI Galway’s sexual health week to heighten awareness about dating abuse within an intimate relationship. COPE Galway Waterside House will be at the GMIT main campus on February 22.

For more information log on to www.copegalway.ie/domestic-violence-faqs/ifeel or contact COPE Galway Waterside House at (091 ) 565985.

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