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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
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THE MORNING LEAD
Rape crisis centres: Increase in helpline calls compared with pre-pandemic years
That’s according to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s rape crisis statistics 2021 report.

THERE WAS AN increase in the number of people contacting six rape crisis centres (RCCs) last year compared with pre-pandemic times of 2019. 

According to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s rape crisis statistics 2021 report released today, a total of 11,414 contacts were made to six RCC helplines across Ireland last year. 

This was a 13% decrease in contacts from the same period in 2020 which saw a huge peak in people accessing helplines during the first year of Covid-19. 

The RCNI said it believes this decrease is due to RCCs resuming in-person counselling appointments increasing engagements within the centre for survivors. 

To put the 2021 figure into the context of pre-pandemic times, it is a 7% increase from the 2019 figure of 10,706. 

78% of people who contacted the six RCC helplines last year were survivors of sexual violence (8,910 people), while 12% were professionals, 7% were people who were supporting a survivor of sexual violence and 3% were others. 

The RCC said survivors of sexual violence most commonly contact RRC helplines for counselling and support, to schedule appointments and for information. 

Last year, 1,341 people took up counselling and support with seven RCCs in Ireland. 

These seven RCCs provided 14,280 appointments for survivors and supporters last year. This was a 6% decrease in the number of appointments provided in 2020.

However, to put this number in the context of pre-pandemic times, it is an 18% increase from 2019.

These appointments were fulfilled in person, over the phone, and by video calls as RCCs moved from remote working to returning to face-to-face appointments. 

Many survivors found lockdown measures and isolation, along with the anxiety and fear that went hand in hand with the Covid-19 pandemic limiting and triggering, and this caused surges in the need for counselling and support throughout the pandemic, the RCNI said.

Every month of 2021 saw an increase in the number of appointments offered by RCCs when compared to 2019.

The report shows that 9% of sexual violence survivors last year were under the age of 18. 83% of perpetrators were over the age of 18. 

Boys/men accounted for 97% of perpetrators, while 92% of survivors were girls/women. 

“Throughout Covid-19 a key piece of learning was hotel vital RCC helpline services are and what a lifeline they are for people. This data confirms that,” RCNI data and privacy manager Elaine Mears said. 

“We know how hard that first contact can be which is why we must pay close attention to what works for survivors. The figures reveal that the majority of survivors access through self referral (53%) and the majority seek out their local services directly,” Mears said. 

“The Rape Crisis Centre model is to centre the survivor in how we shape our services. We do this because it works. It follows that national and international practice should reflect this standard also.” 

The report can be read here

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