Shocking abuse statistics released

  • Joanne McCarthy

One in every four people who reported to rape crisis centres in 2007 was abused by more than one abuser. Furthermore, 60% of people abused in Ireland in childhood were abused for longer than a year.
The statistics were published by the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) yesterday, who analysed reports of 1,691 survivors of sexual violence crimes who attended 14 rape crisis centres in 2007.

Fiona Neary, director of the RCNI, said that rape, child sexual abuse and incest continue to damage Ireland today. Almost 7% of childhood abuse was perpetrated on girls under the age of four, she said.

“We can see clearly that girls and boys are abused differently and also that the nature of abuse can change with the age of the victim,” said Ms Neary.

Girls are much more likely to be abused by a family member. More than half (55%) of the abuse carried out on girls is perpetrated by a family member, compared to one third of the abuse committed on boys. Younger girls are more likely to be abused by family members than girls aged over 11.

Boys are much more likely than girls to be abused by an authority figure, which may include a youth leader, priest, or sports coach.

Girls are twice as likely as boys to be abused both as children and as adults.

While the risk to sexual violence greatly decreases for boys as they grow up, no such safe haven is available to women, as the risk of sexual violence only decreases by 10% in adulthood.

According to the statistics, for adult women the abuser is a partner or ex partner in almost one quarter of cases. The family home remains ‘singularly unsafe for girl children and adult women’, Ms Neary stressed.

In 86% of child abuse cases, the abuser is likely to be well known to the family, if not a family member. Offenders are overwhelmingly male, at 96%.

One of the most shocking revelations contained in the report is the nature of abuse that is reported to Gardaí.

“Women are least likely to report one of the most common forms of adult rape, that by a partner or ex partner and most likely to report to the Gardaí the least likely rape, that perpetrated by a stranger,” Ms Neary stressed.

The least likely of all sexual abuse to be reported to the Gardaí is abuse of a child by a family member, which is one of the most common forms of abuse.

“It is clear that the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim is extremely significant in the victim’s decision of whether or not to report. We must ask ourselves how we can change this,” Ms Neary continued.

The Rape Crisis Network National Statistics 2007 is available at under ‘publications’. To contact the Rape Crisis Centre at any time, freephone 1800 778888.


Frances - 20/11/2008 15:49

Whilst there is a conspiracy of silence within families and in the larger community these shocking statistics will not improve.  Family loyalties and fear are among the hardest issues with which to deal.  We live in a sick society where this type of abuse continues to be unreported and therefore condoned and unpunished.  We should all be ashamed.

nocircni - 20/11/2008 18:14

Whilst these statistic are distressing they do not include the males who are circumcised without medical necessity in Irish hosptials. A number of childrens rights commisioners are now involved in preventing ths unnecessary abuse of male children and it is time for those hospitals involved in this practice to check the most recent international research in this area and add these children to the list of abused. Like other countries the Republic of Ireland has yet to proide equal protection for the boys in line with the new international campaign

publicrealm - 20/11/2008 23:14



I'm not ashamed.

Ms Neary is quoted as stating "The family home remains ‘singularly unsafe for girl children and adult women".

Should I evacuate the females who live in my home - clearly yes in Ms Nearys opinion. Perhaps they would be better off in some form of institution?


Mary T - 21/11/2008 11:20

Yes Frances indeed. Then there is the 'culture' surrounding us nowadays which has a powerful influence on men young and old. Take a critical look at the tabloids, the magazines on the top shelf, videos, computer games, jock jokes and on and on and on. Sex, violence, contempt and abuse of women. Yet the outrage that greeted 'Exploring masculinities' an excellent programme for teenage boys, restrained genuine efforts to question this 'culture' with that age group. The will is not yet there in the wider community to tackle the shadowy aspects of sex. Perhaps when we have spent enough time on the shadowy aspects of religion, sex will be next!


Frances - 21/11/2008 17:30

Dear publicrealm, the paragraph in the article which refers to the family home as being unsafe for girls and women is as follows: "According to the statistics, for adult women the abuser is a partner or ex partner in almost one quarter of cases. The family home remains ‘singularly unsafe for girl children and adult women’, Ms Neary stressed." I took this to mean that where there is a history of abuse in a family, there is no refuge or respite for the woman or girl affected and that the abuse can continue for many many years. I don't think anyone would suggest that females are generally not safe in their own homes. In any case, in my opinion the fact that abuse goes largely unreported and apparently condoned is something that we all should feel responsible for.

nocircni - 21/11/2008 18:16

I agree with Frances there is a conspiracy of silence in families partcularly when it comes to seeing male circumcision as child abuse due to the religious attachment to this practice and the fact that it became popular as a medical procedure i a number of countries including Ireland.

Unfortunately some doctors are stll prepared to conclude in this unethical procedure on parental request and they will have to answer for their actions in the future when male children reach the age of consent and take legal action as has happened elsewhere.


toothless in W'port - 21/11/2008 20:20

I am appalled that this is still going on in dear old Ireland today, but am I surprised? absolutely no.... As a child I suffered institutional abuse both emotionally, verbably, physically and sexually. I am 52years old now and have just recently got out of a marriage that was also emotionally, verbably, physically and sexually abusive. In fact I was raped by my ex husband and was too embarrassed to report him or seek help and I am left to cope like an open wound that is taking so long to heal. I agree with the statistics from the rape crisis centre that people who are abused are more likely to be either family or people in charge and it nearly always follows the child into adulthood. I went to counselling through the hse for victims of instututional abuse and although I went for a long time, I feel I got no help in this area. I am crying as I think what a little child had to go through being abused in such a horrible way...


Anonymous - 24/11/2008 10:16

This is heartbreaking, sickening and shocking at the same time. That the family home remains singularly unsafe for girl children and adult women - well so much for the family being the cornerstone of society, More like the most unsafe and dysfunciton place in society.nocircni - do I take it from your name that the NoCirc group now have a branch in Northern Ireland? This is good news. However it is my understanding that circumcision of babies/children is only carried out in Irish hospitals for medically neccessary reasons (phimosis, ballinitic for example). Am I wrong? Is this siurgery caried out on unconsenting children for non-medical reasons? I am aware of the case where a baby died as a result of a non-medical botched cicumcision carried out at home (and the perpetrators where never imprisoned, which I think is an outrage) but you are wrong if you think that boys are unique in this I'm afraid, as Ireland, unlike thw U.K. has failed to put in place legislation ensuring the imprisonment of anyone involved in Female Genital Mutiliaiton as well.

nocircni - 24/11/2008 19:41

Hi anonymous

Male and female circumcision are both medically unecessary and male circumcision is certainly not required for the reasons you cite.

Circumcision regardless of children regardless of gender is not acceptable as it is harmful to the physical and emotional development of the child and in later life when they are sexually active many men report severe sexual problems from this practice.

It is my understanding that following the Waterford baby case which as you rightly say was a disgrace there were moves to perform this ritual within hospitals in the Republic of Ireland, perhaps it did not happen but I suspect it did.

I am aware of the criminalisation of female genital mutilation in the Republic of Ireland, however that does not mean that female children are not at risk as they sometimes are returned to their country of origin during the summer holidays for surgery.

Denmark recently called for male circumcsion to be banned and the Children Rights Commissioner for Tasmania has called it child abuse.

We must protect all children from these practices and educate their families on the harm of these procedures.

Anonymous - 25/11/2008 12:06

Hi no cric, there is no medical neccessity for FGM - none, it is barbaric cruelty. Non-medically neccessary male circumcision regardless of the excuse attempoted to justify it (tradition, beleif sysems etc) is the same - abuse. However there are rare medical conditions which require this surgery to be done. Phomosis and ballinitis were certainly regarded as such altho perhaps other medical treatments have have been developed for these now but they were certainly relevant when I was young (ok, it was 25 years or more ago). penile cancer (very rare in children) and glans adhesion are another altho I understand the latter only becomes defined and problematic pre-pubescent.Outside of these medical reasons I am absolutely opposed of course to rountine cicumcision of male infants and all traditional / religious /ritualistic practise of such.In addition to it being harmful to the physical and emotional and sexual development of the person, it is also a direct contravention of the right of a child to bodily integrity but of course in this country we don't even have a charter of rights for cildren (no wonder there is such abuse).On the waterfod case, no that did not happen. In fact hospitals at the time came out and said that under no circumstnaces would they perform surgery on children for non-medically neccessary reasons. Actually NO. there was no criminalisation of F.G.M in Ieland so like yoiu say parents can return their children to their home countries for such mutilation (it is NOT surgery any more that ritual M.G.M is surgery) - unlike the UK where any persons found doing so face a mandoatory prison sentence of 14 years) What astonished me is that circumcision (excpet for definite medical reasons) is not banned. Afterall, yoiur assertion about the practise being religious is hardly founded here considerign that as a ritualistic practise is was founded in judaism and islam wheras Ireland was and predominantly is Christian with regard to religion. Absolutely education is key. Thankfully we seem to have escaped such horrific notions as prevailed in the U.S. and U.K. with regard sexual continence and cleanliness myths surrounding circumcision. It is interesting (interwstign is the wrong word) tho that anyone involved in F.G.M including sending girls to their home coultires for such mutiliation faces havey penalties and only right but hospitals are permitted to perform non medically neccesary circumcision (which i would refer to as M.G.M) on male children for ritualistic reasons - becuase their parents are muslim or jewish for examplyt and simply want it to be done. I wonder if you walked into a hospital and asked that your childs nose be broken or their earlobe be amputated simply becase you believe it to be right, how long would it take for a very serious investigation to commence? And rightly so.

Mary T - 25/11/2008 12:29

Now we're into an auction of victimhood. A typical distraction from the main point which was the vulnerability of some females to the violence and sexual abuse of some males.

Anonymous - 25/11/2008 14:23

Mary, FGM and non-medically neccessary circumcison, regardless of the tradition/culture/religion excuse IS sexual and physical abuse of children

Frances - 25/11/2008 17:41

ALL abuse is wrong - vulnerable people of any age need protection - those who abuse need to be exposed - and then punished according to the law. Help for those who have been abused is shockingly underfunded - I hope "Toothless of Westport" hasn't chosen her nickname because of her feeling of powerlessness - although I suspect that might be the case. I hope you find the help you need, your story really touched me.

Born Again - 26/11/2008 13:15

Hi Frances

After reading your post, I've decided to change my nickname...... Thank you for your understanding. I have felt such powerlessness in the past but have started to stand up for what is right, especially after I went to court to have my daughter protected from her father who was emotionally & physically abusive to her and also exposed her to obscent pornographic websites which he watched on a daily basis and were usually scenes of young women and one occasion involved at least two men...I was appalled that he would watch such filth and leave the web addresses clear for all to see. I went to court to get a protection for my daughter and was appalled when the Judge told me that it was all 'hearsay' and that she had women like me who were in a difficult marriage coming in to her and making up stories...she dismissed me like a piece of dirt. A year down the line, my other daughter was subjected to the same abuse from her father and this time I went to court at 10.00 am and refused to leave without my piece of paper to protect my daughters and when I was called to take the stand the Judge asked me if I was before her a year earlier and I said yes but You did not protect my child and today I need a protection order as I did not get justice last time. Thank God she gave me not only a protection order but a barring order..which he subsequently appealed but he was told to stay out of the house and today I feel I can breathe....I'm alive....We are SAFE!!

nocircni - 26/11/2008 19:03

There is a new international camapign to end the genital mutilation of children regardless of gender I am part of that campaign.

Despite Female Genital Mutilation being illegal in the United Kingdom there have been no prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police are now offering a £20000 reward for information leading to a prosecution.

Males have yet to be protected in the same way as females as there are those who still unfortunately believe that there are medical indications for this barbaric surgery when there are not. The British Medical Association has confirmed that there are psychological and physiological effects from this practice and that non invasive alternatives must be used to conserve the male foreskin.

All genital mutilations of children are child abuse and children need to be protected from those who would perform such procedures when they are too young to defend themselves.

Anonymous - 27/11/2008 16:00

Yes, I thought that from your name alright. I have nothing but admiration for what you are trying to achieve.

I didn't know that about the UK - thanks for the info..

The difference between F.G.M as practised and M.G.M (medically unneccessary circumcision) is that the former  practised barbarically mutilates all external female genetalia, results in death in thousands of caes and death in childbirth as a result of after effects as well as destroying a sexual organs and sexual pleasure. M.G.M is of course also absolutely wrong and should (must) also be eliminated as it does physical, sexual and psychologial damamgewas you correctly ay.

While it might be easier to educate The British Medical Association - they are afterall learned people with a respect of knowledge, what may be moe difficult is to educate those where superstition/tradition/cclture/religion informs and fuels their ignorance. Thsi can be far more implacable.

Frances - 27/11/2008 16:16

Dear Born Again

Love the new name! That's the spirit - don't let the *****ers get you down! It sometimes seems that Judges live in a different world from the rest of us. Glad yours saw sense in the end. Wishing you all the very best.

nocircni - 27/11/2008 18:01

Hi anonymous

Female Genital Mutilaion may obliterate all of the external genitlia in its most severe form whilst in others it does not as there are many forms of this practice. However they are all illegal regardless of degree.

Equally there are many cases of total obliteration of the penis in male children and subsequent sexual reassignment.

The problem with both are that in the communinities where they are practiced there is a belief that they are not hamful.

A further problem with male circumcsion which was started as a cure for masturabatory insanity in the victorian era is that it is still performed by doctors who are ignorant of the research on foreskin development in children and the purpose of the male foreskin throughout life.

Male circumcision is also a cultural practice and it can be just as difficult to get the doctors to abandon the practice as they do not want to know that they have harmed children by their lack of knowledge.

Billybob - 28/11/2008 09:24

nocircni sometimes circumcision is required in males. I know - I needed it done in my early 20's which was a horrible experience. My doc said it should have been done as a baby and I certainly wish it had been.

Anonymous - 28/11/2008 09:46

Nocirc, I had no idea that any form of M.G.M. completely removes the penis. This is certianly not documented anywhere that I have found. Do bear in mind however that gender realignmnt surgery is a completley different thing and is provided, medically, along with other therapies, to transgendered people - and only performed on adults. Completley different to M.G.M

True, this was also my point but my post was cut sort. It was used (as FGM is with far more brutality) to "prevent" masturabation, also under the belief that it was "cleaner" and in the case of M.G.M. in the beleif that the partners of circumcised men were less likely to get HPV.

nocircni - 28/11/2008 14:20

I haven't time to document all the total amputations and deaths there have been from male circumcision but a good  starting point for the injuries sustained is

Mary T - 28/11/2008 18:23

While I have considerable sympathy for male victims, some of whom have suffered from circumcision and some of whom have clearly derived great benefit from it, I think the following statistics and points in the report deserve to be remembered and commented on.

1,691 survivors of sexual violence crimes attended 14 rape crisis centres in 2007. 55% of the abuse carried out on girls is perpetrated by a family member, compared to one third of the abuse committed on boys. Boys are much more likely than girls to be abused by an authority figure, which may include a youth leader, priest, or sports coach.

Girls are twice as likely as boys to be abused both as children and as adults.

In 86% of child abuse cases, the abuser is likely to be well known to the family, if not a family member.

Offenders in cases of child abuse are overwhelmingly male, at 96%.

The least likely of all sexual abuse to be reported to the Gardaí is abuse of a child by a family member, which is one of the most common forms of abuse.

Anonymous - 01/12/2008 10:07

Thanks for the link. I think nocirc, you are therefore referring to amputation which were accidental and therefore not done intentionally as part of M.G.M.

It is therefore untrue to say any M.G.M. is intended to involve total amputation - and certainly not any medically required circumcision invoves this. Unlike certain forms of F.G.M. which intentionally involve the total obliteration of external female genetalia and all the complications that involves.

nocircni - 01/12/2008 12:57

Both male and female genital mutialtion are performed historically and in contemporary society for the same reasons hygiene and sexual repression. Both can cause major injuries and death. As such both are equally comparable it is unnacceptable for either to be perfomed on parental whim when such grave injuries can and do occur

Genital mutilation is not gender specific.

Anonymous - 01/12/2008 15:43

I think you have left out one reason nocircni and it's huge - that of culture/traditioni in what is broadly termed "religion" If a belief is not based on fact or science, no matter how erronious it is almost impossible to educate it or argue it rationally with the believer.

As for hygiene - this too could be based on the (subsequently proven incorrect) belief that partners of circumcised men (or men who were victim to M.G.M. as boys) were less likley to get HPV.

It may also be down to the beleif that partner of such men are more likely to experience a greater degree of satisfaction (not to put it too delicately). The horrific brutality of infibulation is hardly comparable to hospital based circumcision (M.G.M.) but I agree, both are absolyutely wrong, both intolerable and both are abuse - as is any non-medically neccessary surgery or brutality carried out on the non-consenting.

Mary T - 01/12/2008 16:09

NOCIRCNI, Your insistence on drawing attention to the downsides of male circumcision is persistent and interesting. And your name, or pseudonym intrigues me as it ends in RCNI, the initials of the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland. Perhaps a coincidence.

I agree the problem of male victims deserves more attention at present. But there is a tendency to overlook the problems and motives of male perpetrators and an unwillingness to draw up educational policies to minimise the number of male perpetrators in the future. Our beloved males deserve better according to my beloved males.

nocircni - 01/12/2008 21:04

Hi Mary T my name is not a secret and details concerning the organisation I represent and my details can be found at

I set up Nocirc in Ireland and work internationally is protecting children thanks for the interest

Anonymous - 02/12/2008 08:49

I thought, Mary, that the initials were intended to stand for No Circ (short for circumcision) N.I. (As in Northern Ireland) The No circ group have a wide global network. You can check their website and they are deicated to the eduction on and prevention of Male Genital Mutilation (as in, the non-medically neccesary circumcision of the non-consenting), to the best of my knowledge, anyway.

I was surprised myself that the group had an N.I. base considering that here in the republic, doctors are not permitted to perform non-medically neccessary circumcision - or any surgery for that matter, on children - that is, up to the age of 16.

nocircni - 02/12/2008 11:37

Hi anonymous and Mary

The problem with male circumcision as a medical procdure in Northern Ireland and elsewhere is that there is substantial qualitative evidence that the operation can cause post trumatic stress disorder, life long depression and suicide attempts.

Doctors are too quick to recommend the procedure as they are unaware of the psychological and lifelong difficulties raised by the circumcision of childen.

Minor difficulties are often cited as the reason for the perfomance of male circumcision. These can be easily be resolved through alternative non invasive approaches as recommended by he British Medical Association.

Parents when consenting to the circumcision of their children are not informed of the function of the foreskin and the problems which may then occur as a result of the procedure their consent is as a result invalid and the child may sue the doctor in later life.

Many victims are too ashamed to come forward to document their harm. I set up Nocirc in Northern Ireland when I learned the tuth about this practice following an attempted suicide in my family. I know the pain of the vicitms and I speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Anonymous - 03/12/2008 08:59

Oh good gried, noCirc, how terribly sad. Your work is of course highly commendable but also courageous in light of your families personal experience. One quote in realtion to unneccessary - or as it called in the U.S. "routine" circumcision is 'if nature had intended males to have a foreskin they would be born with one - oh wait, they are!"

nocircni - 03/12/2008 13:14

Thanks anonymous just don't want another family to go through what we went through. The biggest problem for the many victims is the fact that to date no country has made this practice illegal making victims feel worse as they feel society ignores their pain. We are currently lobbying internationally to ensure that boys have the same protections as girls.

Anonymous - 03/12/2008 14:08

While the same could be said of other surgeries, the problem could be that no country would get medial backing to ban medical cicumcision as, in certain cases, albeit very rare ones, it is medicaly neccesay and therfore docors wouldn't be acting ethically in allowing those boys who did require it, not to be able to recive it. With F.G.M. however, there is no medical neccesity whatsoever for it, hence it could be banned in the UK. It is however endemic in other parts of the world and campaigns are also underway to have it banned.

As for circumcision for non-medical reasons, regardless of whehter it is in a clinical setting or not, yes of course this should be banned but it may be the the UK and US would not do this to prevent "offending" any "religious sesnsitivities".

nocircni - 03/12/2008 17:00

Hi anonymous

I work with many people internationally from the Jewish and Muslim community who involved in educating their respective communities on the harm caused by male circumcision. You are right there will always be a medical opt out as there is with the current law regarding females. However at least if it was legislated against on cultural grounds there would be a recognition in the medical community that this is a very serious operation, should not be undertaken except in an emergency and provide boys the same protection as girls. I have counselled many men who have been injured some were from those communities which perform this on cultural grounds they are very angry that society did not protect them and actually see it as a form of racism.

As you know the Waterford baby case demonstrates why the boys should be protected and a spokesperson for the Metropolitan police confirmed that deaths had occurred in the Uk because of male circumcision.

Paents do not have a right to risk their child's life for a religious belief.


Anonymous - 04/12/2008 09:59

well said NoCric and I would also add the parents do not have the right to take away their childs right to bodily integrity for religious belief.

It crazy when you think about it, if you wanted to have the shape of your childs nose or chin altered for non-medical reason, ie cosmetic surgery, a doctor would not perform it. But if it's a foreskin and religious beleifs are cited, that somehow seems to make it ok???

Keep up the great work.

nocircni - 04/12/2008 19:58

Thanks anonymous, I will.

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