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Junior Minister Roisin Shortall, CEO of DRCC Ellen O'Malley Dunlop and chairperson Frances Gardiner Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre took almost 12,000 calls last year

The centre has also experienced an increase in the number of callers looking for help because of childhood sexual abuse.

THE DUBLIN RAPE Crisis Centre has said that Ireland urgently needs to change society’s behaviour towards rape and sexual abuse as it “still tolerates” it “with impunity”.

In its Annual Report for 2011, the DRCC revealed that it had seen an 18 per cent increase in the number of first-time callers to its national 24-hour helpline.

Describing the statistics as “shocking”, chairperson Dr Frances Gardiner said the group’s raising awareness campaign is “slowly but surely” helping to change the attitudes to rape and sexual abuse in Ireland.

“Changing attitudes will change behaviour,” she said.

During 2011, the helpline received 11,839 calls, over 9,000 of which were described as genuine counselling calls and not hoaxes, hang-ups or obscene contacts.

Of the almost 12,000 contacts, about one-third were from first time callers, while 4,371 were repeat contacts.

Other key figures about calls in the Annual Report showed that:

  • 81 per cent were from females and 19 per cent from males;
  • 44 per cent related to adult rape;
  • 52 per cent related to adult sexual violence (including rape, assault, harassment and trafficking);
  • 48 per cent related to child sexual abuse;
  • they were made by people from 42 different nationalities;
  • 96 per cent were from Irish people and 4 per cent from non-Irish nationals.

Last year, DRCC’s trained volunteers accompanied 271 victims of rape and sexual assault to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in the Rotunda Hospital.

There were 734 incidents of rape, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse disclosed by clients during 2011. Often, other types of violence – including threats to kill, intimidation and psychological abuse – were reported along with the main type of abuse.

The DRCC is not always clear if the abuse has been reported to Gardaí and in some cases the act may have taken place many years prior to the contact. The reporting status is known in 304 cases, of which just 30 per cent were notified to authorities.

Of the 91 cases reported to the Gardaí, seven cases were tried resulting in four convictions or guilty pleas and one acquittal. There were two cases where the outcome was unknown.

DRCC’s clients came from the city, the greater Dublin area and from 17 other counties. Altogether, 537 clients were seen for crisis counselling and psychotherapy. Of these, 12 per cent were men.

The report also revealed that there has been an increase of about 20 per cent in clients seeking therapy over childhood sexual abuse since 2003. The centre believes that the impact of various reports into child abuse in the Catholic Church and a change in public discourse has contributed to this increase.

“These crimes are now acknowledged and discussed openly, without shame or blame,” said CEO Ellen O’Malley Dunlop.

Dr Gardiner said that at this time, when the group expects calls to rise, it is important that funding is not cut.

“It is crucial that victims can be confident that professional help is available to them at a time of deep personal trauma,” she explained.

“We can see from the numbers of victims of rape and sexual abuse seeking the services of the DRCC in 2011 that we must ensure the continuation of the work of the DCC,” added O’Malley Dunlop.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre can be contacted 24 hours a day on 1800 77 88 88.

Read: Child protection reviews reveal 378 abuse allegations about 146 individuals>

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