This piece was originally published on the author’s own blog, Nothing Mentioned Nothing Gained.
My imaginary boyfriend and I have been going out on and off for as long as I can remember. In some ways it’s a perfect relationship. He’s always there when I need him, but he makes no demands of me. There’s no insecurity, given that he’s entirely made up. Unfortunately, the sex isn’t the best, although imaginary sex is generally not the worst either. Imaginary boyfriend exists in the background regardless of whether I have a boyfriend in the real world at the time or not, and all I really know about him is that he is invariably bigger, stronger and meaner than the person I’m describing him to. He is jealous, has anger management issues, and a possible violent streak. You’d think that if you had an imaginary boyfriend he should at least make you happy. But my imaginary boyfriend was born out of sheer necessity, and he’s the kind of man I would never go near in real life.
1 in 5 women over the age of 18 experience physical, emotional and sexual abuse in Ireland and in a national survey on domestic abuse, almost 60% of people who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships experienced the abuse for the first time under the age of 25.
Women’s Aid recently launched the second year of a national public awareness campaign highlighting dating violence. There is a myth in society that abuse only occurs in older and more established relationships. But we hear on our National Freephone Helpline that this is not the case.
In many 'going out' or 'dating' relationships, abuse is already a feature but is often not recognised as such by the young woman herself, or her friends.
The 2in2u campaign highlights unhealthy and abusive behaviours in a Relationship Health Check Quiz at www.2in2u.ie, in the hope that young women, if informed, might get help before the relationship becomes more established, and it has become harder to leave or get support.
It also encourages young women to listen to their instincts with its strap line - 'If it feels wrong, it probably is.' The campaign is supported by Charlene McKenna, Irish actress and star of RTE Drama ‘Raw’.
The 2in2u campaign highlights the way the controlling boyfriend's attention can often be overwhelming at the early stages of the relationship, and encapsulates how it feels to be a young woman experiencing abuse. Again and again, we hear from women living with domestic violence that the signs that her partner was possessive and controlling were from the start. But to her and those around her, it appeared like he was just so into her.
The 2in2u campaign is a four week long radio, online, digital and poster advertising campaign targeting young women aged 18-25 years old. To listen to the Radio ad and for more information visit www.womensaid.ie/campaigns. You can also request posters to be sent out to you from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you affected by dating abuse?
Dating abuse can happen to any woman at anytime and it means that your boyfriend does already/may try to:
How Women’s Aid can help
If you are anxious or worried about your relationship visit www.2in2u.ie, for a relationship health check and contact the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 to talk to someone in confidence, who can help you make sense of your situation.
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