Rape helpline busier during recession

  • Deborah Condon

There has been a ‘disturbing increase' in calls to the national rape helpline from victims of adult sexual violence since the recession began, a new report has shown.

According to the 2012 Annual Report of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), over 12,000 calls were handled by its national 24-hour helpline in 2012. Over half of these calls related to adult sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, trafficking and sexual harassment.

Some 45% of calls related to childhood sexual abuse.

More than 4,000 of the calls received by the helpline last year were from first-time contacts, an increase of 23% since 2010.

"Since the recession there has been a disturbing year on year increase in calls to the national 24-hour helpline from victims of adult sexual violence...This reflects what we know from international research, that sexual violence and violence against women in particular, increases in times of economic recession," commented DRCC chief executive, Ellen O'Malley Dunlop.

The report also revealed that in 2012:
-83% of callers to the helpline were female, while 17% were male
-While 54 different nationalities contacted the helpline, 96% of callers overall were Irish
-260 victims of rape and sexual assault were accompanied to the sexual assault treatment unit (SATU) in Dublin's Rotunda Hospital by DRCC trained volunteers
-Over 550 people were seen by the DRCC for individual counseling, an increase of 4% compared to 2011
-Among those who attended for counsellling for cases of adult rape or sexual assault, one in five said that additional violence had occurred, including physical abuse, threats to kill and imprisonment.

Meanwhile the report showed that among the cases where the reporting status was known, just 36% of cases were reported to the Gardai, with two in three of these relating to rape and sexual assault and the remainder relating to childhood sexual abuse.

Commenting on the report, DRCC chairperson, Dr Frances Gardiner, said that it outlined the ‘range and diversity' of the centre's services ‘and how departments valiantly strove to fulfil their mandate despite the challenge of shrinking resources in 2012'.

"An analysis of figures confirms how unrelenting the sinister world of sexual crime is, traumatising men and women in its wake. The statistics in DRCC's Annual Report 2012 are indeed shocking.

"It is crucial that victims can be confident that professional help is available to them at a time of deep personal trauma. This is not a time to cut funding to rape crisis centres," she insisted.

The national helpline is available 24 hours a day - call 1800 77 88 88.



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