Research Launch: Girls’ and Young Women’s Views and Experiences of Violence in Northern Ireland
Dr Siobhán McAlister, Dr Gail Neill (Ulster University), Prof. Dirk Schubotz and Dr Michelle Templeton attended the launch of their research commissioned by the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Directorate of The Executive Office on 8th September. At the event McAlister and Neill presented key findings from 268 girls and young women who took part in the research outlining: what and how they learn about violence; their understandings of violence; their experiences of violence; barriers to disclosure and views on preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
The research revealed that 73% of girls aged 12-17 reported experiencing violence in their life time. In interview and focus groups, many spoke of experiencing persistent cat-calling and street harassment from a young age. These experiences led young women to feel embarrassed, self-conscious, insecure, unsafe and hyper-vigilant when in public. This ‘everyday violence’, alongside receiving regular unsolicited messages and sexual images, were so common as to be deemed a ‘normal’ part of young women’s lives. The normalisation of some forms of violence, and lack of education on identifying and reporting violence were identified as barriers to help seeking among young women. Many also felt that they simply would not be believed should they report violence.
The research was commissioned by the Executive Office to inform the Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Women and Girls.