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Big increase in calls to rape helpline
[Posted: Thu 17/06/2010 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
Calls to the Rape Crisis Centre's national helpline increased by 12% last year, while the number of first time callers jumped by 41%, new figures have shown.
According to the 2009 Annual Report and Annual Statistics of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), a total of 14,289 calls were received by the national 24-hour helpline last year, a 12% increase on 2008's figures.
Meanwhile, 4,188 calls were from first time callers, marking an increase of 41.5% on 2008's figures. A further 3,584 calls were repeat calls, an increase of almost 6% on 2008's figures.
Of the callers, 82% were female and 18% were male.
Just over half of calls related to childhood sexual abuse, an increase of 8%, while the remaining calls related to adult sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
According to DRCC chief executive, Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, 2009 was ‘an unprecedented year' in relation to demand for services and this was ‘without doubt due to the impact of the publication of the Ryan Report on Institutional Abuse in May and the Murphy Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese in November'.
"While the DRCC had heard a lot of these stories over its 30 years in service, the public acknowledgment and belief in what was contained in these reports enabled large numbers of victims, for the first time, to feel vindicated and to come forward and speak out.
"The number of first time callers to the helpline increased by 41.5%. These calls were harrowing. They were not only from victims themselves but from family members and from the public who wanted to express their own outrage, upset and desire for something to be done," Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said.
She added that the media had played a ‘significantly positive role' in bringing these stories to the public ‘in a way that the victims were able to leave behind the mantle of shame that kept them silent for far too long'.
When it came to reporting these crimes to the Gardai, the DRCC figures referred to 289 people who commenced therapy with the centre in 2009, where the reporting status was known.
Of these 289 cases, just 84 were reported to Gardai - a reporting rate of 29%. One in three rape and sexual assault cases were reported, along with almost one in four childhood sexual abuse cases.
Meanwhile the reports also revealed that 286 victims of rape and sexual assault were accompanied by DRCC trained volunteers at the sexual assault treatment unit in the Rotunda Hospital.
Commenting on the overall service delivery by the DRCC, Ms O'Malley-Dunlop pointed out that despite the recession and cutbacks, the centre ‘continues to deliver its full range of services'.
However she emphasised that in order to be able to respond to the increase in the demands on all services, the DRCC ‘needs to be confident that the much appreciated grant we receive from the HSE, which covers two-thirds of our running cost, is ring fenced'. This year, that grant was further cut by 5.8%.
"While we appreciate the promise of once off funding under the implementation plan of the Ryan Report, which will go some way towards covering the costs of the extra demands of the last year, it does not sustain the much needed services on an ongoing basis. We need a firm commitment from Government that they will support the work of the centre and deliver on their promise to the victims of sexual crimes and the survivors of childhood sexual abuse," Ms O'Malley-Dunlop added.
The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 1800 77 88 88.
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