Belfast Telegraph

Domestic abuse among teenagers ‘rampant’, says campaigner

Ainie Grainger, 21, has called for more services for young people who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence.

Campaigner Ainie Grainger says a dedicated service should be set up to help young people suffering domestic abuse (Ainie Grainger/PA)
Campaigner Ainie Grainger says a dedicated service should be set up to help young people suffering domestic abuse (Ainie Grainger/PA)

A campaigner has said domestic abuse is rampant among young teenagers and more should be done to tackle it.

Ainie Grainger, 21, from Dublin, suffered mental, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father from an early age.

Ms Grainger, who has been campaigning on behalf of victims since she was 13, advises youngsters about how to deal with domestic violence.

I've come out the other side and I'm living the life I want, it's not always easy but you can do it Ainie Grainger

She said she has helped hundreds of men and women through her work with her mother Priscilla and their campaign group Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland.

“I use Snapchat and Instagram for an advice service, people can message me and it won’t look suspicious on their phones,” she said.

“I get so many messages from young people who are either suffering violence from a parent or their partner – and some of them are so young.

“With young people these days, domestic abuse is rampant, I think the amount of drugs available to young people adds to the problem, and a lot of the time young people might grow up looking at their parents’ toxic relationship as a model and repeat the pattern.”

She added: “When you’re starting out in relationships you don’t know what’s normal and parents have no idea what’s happening.

“Both boys and girls come to me and tell me what’s happening but I don’t know of any dedicated service for young adults who have suffered domestic violence.

“I use social media to let them know they’re not alone, I’ve been through it too and I’ve come out the other side and I’m living the life I want, it’s not always easy but you can do it.”

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Ms Grainger has urged people to look beyond preconceived ideas of what constitutes domestic abuse (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ms Grainger has called for more services for young people who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence, and the consequences that come with it.

“The consequences are always ongoing, panic attacks, anxiety, lasting mental health problems,” she said.

“There are services for women and services for children but I think a dedicated service is necessary to help young adults and teenagers.

“If we don’t start addressing the problems at that age, they’ll manifest into something else or you’re doomed to repeat the pattern.”

She said society must move away from preconceived ideas of what domestic violence is and who the victims are.

“People have this image in their head of domestic violence and it’s always so stereotypical when in reality it couldn’t be further from what people think,” she said.

“Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence, it doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t care about money or what you do for a living.

“I’ve seen abusers from all walks of life, some we’ve dealt with are schoolteachers, for example.”

She added: “People always think of women too, when that’s not the case, we’ve had messages from so many men, easily as much as women, and they are so embarrassed to come forward and say ‘this is happening to me but I must be doing something wrong, I must be the abuser’.

“Men are so often victims and no-one really talks about it.”

In 2018, there were 16,994 disclosures of domestic violence against women noted during 19,089 contacts with Women’s Aid Direct Services.

The full number of domestic violence incidents in Ireland is unknown.

PA

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