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14th Feb 2024

#TooIntoYou: These are the signs and red flags of an abusive relationship

Jody Coffey

Too Into You

“One in five women in Ireland have been in an abusive relationship. One in three never told anybody about the abuse they had experienced”

Those were the words of Mary Hayes, at the launch of the Too Into You pop-up shop in Dublin on February 13th.

While Valentine’s Day very much focuses on the beauty of love and celebrating the happiness shared between couples, Too Into You is a campaign by Women’s Aid aimed at building public awareness around the darker side of relationships and what to look out for.

The campaign’s mission is to educate people about relationship red flags, to challenge the younger generation’s perception of romance, and to bring awareness to the signs of intimate relationship abuse.

“We want young people to know that they don’t have to go through this alone”

Mary Hayes, Too Into You Project Lead

Abuse is more common than we think.

In Ireland, one in five women aged 18 to 25 have been abused by a partner or an ex.

As Mary sadly pointed out during the launch of the campaign, many of these women suffered in silence and didn’t share their harrowing experiences with anyone.

“We want young people to know that they don’t have to go through this alone, that there is support for them. The more people it [the Too Into You campaign] reaches, the better.”

Common signs of an abusive relationship

The word ‘abuse’ can feel like a very big word that, oftentimes, victims will not believe their experience aligns with.

However, abuse includes all the subtle ways a person can mistreat their other half. Often, it starts off small and progressively gets worse and more damaging.

Women’s Aid have provided several examples of what abuse can look like in a relationship:

  • They say they hate your friends and complain when you spend time with them
  • They’re always accusing you of being unfaithful
  • They have a bad temper and you feel afraid to disagree with them
  • They send constant messages and get annoyed when you ignore them
  • They tell you how to dress and criticise your appearance
  • They make you feel guilty if you don’t spend all of your free time with them
  • They demand your passwords to check your devices
  • You feel afraid to break up with them because they say they will hurt themselves if you do
  • They force you to do things sexually that you don’t want to do
  • They are physically violent or threaten to hurt you or someone else

Whether you recognise these signs in your relationship or not, Women’s Aid is always available to provide more information and support.

Their 24hr National Freephone Helpline is 1800 341 900 – add this to your phone contacts.

Women’s Aid Instant Messaging Service can be found at, and it is confidential and easy to use.

Could your friend be in an abusive relationship?

As previously mentioned, a devastatingly large number of women who experience abuse don’t tell anyone.

For this reason, it’s more important to help our friends who we think may be a victim of intimate abuse, even if we are not 100 per cent sure is right.

“We need to learn the red flags of abuse early on so we can spot them in our own relationships and in our friends relationships.

Mary Hayes, Too Into You Project Lead

Remember, if it feels wrong, it probably is.

“We need to learn the red flags of abuse early on so we can spot them in our own relationships and in our friends relationships,” Mary stressed.

“We want people to have happy and healthy relationship; but in order to do that, we need to know what that looks like.”

If you’re worried about a friend and how their partner treats them, the Too Into You says these are the most common signs to look out for.

  • You don’t see them as much as you used to
  • They seem distant, withdrawn, or distracted
  • They seem anxious or nervous around their partner
  • Their partner gets jealous or angry easily
  • Their partner makes them send nude images
  • Their partner demands to look through their phone and knows their passwords
  • Their partner always puts them down
  • Their partner criticises the way they look and how they dress

Some signs are easier to detect than others, but Women’s Aid suggests bringing it up with your friend, calmly, respectfully and appropriately.

If you believe a friend may be in trouble, the organisation says the following these non-judgmental cues may be helpful.

Check-in on them: Text them to say hi, ask them if they’re okay, let them know you’re there.

Talk to them in person: Don’t talk about your concerns over text as it could put them in danger if their partner has access to their phone.

Believe them: Tell them “I believe you,” “It’s not your fault.” and “What they are doing to you is not ok.”

Speak to someone close to them: If you don’t think you’re close enough with them to approach the conversation, you can speak, in confidence to someone they trust.

Tell them about the Instant Messaging Service: This provides confidential support to those experiencing abuse, available at

Add the Women’s Aid Freephone Number to their contacts: 1800 341 900

Give them phone credit: This is so they can make a call in the case of an emergency

Tell them they can contact you at any time: Let them know that help and support is always there

Agree a code word: They can use this if they’re in danger and need help

Add your card to their taxi app: This is so they can book one in an emergency

Take the relationship quiz

Abuse can be difficult to spot, especially when a relationship appears healthy or romantic on the surface.

This is especially the case for younger people who are in their first relationship and don’t have anything to compare it to.

This can normalise toxic behaviours.

They key thing to remember is that if it feels wrong, it probably is.

The Too Into You website has a Relationship Quiz which can help determine if a relationship is healthy and bring awareness to unhealthy or abusive behaviours in a relationship.

The quiz can also prompt reflection and discussion about how young people are treated in their intimate relationships, inspiring the next generation to learn more about healthy vs unhealthy behaviours.

The quiz can be found here. Take it and share it with your friends.

Everyone deserves to have a happy and healthy relationship.

Too Into You will run for four weeks, concluding on International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2024.

The #TooIntoYou Valentine’s Pop-Up Shop will be open to the public from 10.30am – 5.30pm on today at 31/32 Mary Street, Dublin 1, D01VK24. 

Support for anyone affected: Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, open seven days a week.

Instant Message Support Service on, open mornings and evenings, seven days a week.

Support for Men: National Male Adviceline 1800 816 588

Support for LGBTQ+ people: National LGBT Helpline 1800 929 539