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Rape and sexual assault at house parties increasing, crisis centre says

Dublin’s Rape Crisis Centre had almost 13,000 contacts to its national 24-hour helpline in 2017.

Image: Shutterstock/Milkovasa

INCIDENTS OF RAPE and sexual assault at house parties and in the homes of friends are increasing, according to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. 

Speaking at the publication of its annual report today, Head of Clinical Services Angela McCarthy said that the apparent increase was identified by therapists working within the centre. 

“A lot of people have been telling us about having been raped by someone who they thought they could trust,” McCarthy said. 

Outlining the relationship between the victim and the offender, today’s reports lists seven categories – “parent”, “sibling”, “boyfriend/partner”, “other relative”, “other known person”, “person in authority” and “stranger”. 

Figures show that 43.8% of cases in 2017 related to an “other known person” – the highest figure in that category.

“For an awful lot of people it is not just what happened but it is the betrayal of trust by someone who they thought was a friend and they woke up to find them raping them,” McCarthy said. 

There has also been an increase in the number of “crisis appointments” at the centre – when a person has been raped or sexually assaulted in the previous six months.

Of the 3,883 completed sessions in 2017, 48.5% were crises appointments, an increase of 9.5% from 2016. 

‘A lot has happened’ 

The apparent increase in rape and sexual assault at house parties, however, cannot be confirmed by the centre due to a lack of data surrounding the prevalence of sexual violence, Chairperson of the Board Ann Marie Gill has said. 

The centre expects confirmation of anecdotal evidence in a new report into sexual violence, however, due to be published in 2024. 

The last Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) report was published in 2002 and detailed the prevalence of sexual violence in relation to age and gender of over 3,000 adults.

The report focused not only on the responses of those sexually abused but also on the attitudes and perceptions of the general public to sexual violence.

Speaking at today’s launch, Gill said that – while the centre welcomed the government’s 2017 decision to fund a second SAVI report – concerns have been raised about the length of time before the report is complete. 

“A lot has happened in society between 2002 and 2024…So we hope that those due dates might be looked at again.”

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre had almost 13,000 contacts to its national 24-hour helpline last year and provided therapy for 550 face-to-face clients, today’s report notes. 

The helpline had 12,855 contacts in 2017, an increase of 500 from the previous year.

Staff at the crisis centre also accompanied 251 people to examinations at the sexual assault treatment unit at the Rotunda in Dublin, and provided support on 53 days to victims who were making a criminal complaint either at a garda station or in court.

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