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Almost 1 in 10 sex assault victims to attend for treatment had multiple assailants in 2020

That is according to the 2020 Sexual Assault Treatment Unit annual report.

Image: Shutterstock

ALMOST ONE IN 10 sexual assault cases treated by the country’s network of sexual assault treatment units involved multiple assailants in 2020.

That is according to the 2020 Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) annual report which shows that there were 822 perpetrators concerning 734 sexual assault victims treated by the SATUs.

The report shows that 9% of all sexual assaults treated by SATUs in 2020 were committed by multiple assailants.

The report also reveals that one quarter of sex assault complainants in 2020 were children aged 18 and under.

The annual report shows that the percentage of minors using its services last year increased from 19% to 25% of overall service users in 2020.

12 of those to attend SATUs last year were aged under 14 with 77 aged 14 to 16 and 87 aged 17 to 18.

At the end other end of the age range, six aged over the age of 70 attended SATUs last year for treatment.

The impact of Covid-19 lockdowns last year contributed to the overall number of complainants using SATU services decreasing by 22% from 943 in 2019 to 734 last year.

The mean age of those attending SATUs was 27 and the largest age cohort was those aged between 18 and 25 accounting for 236 cases.

The SATUs are based at Galway, Cork, Mullingar, Waterford, Letterkenny and by far the busiest was at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital.

In 2020, 277 sex assault complaints attending the Rotunda representing 38% – or 277 of the overall 734 total.

The report records how during the two strictest periods of the pandemic from 27 March to 18 May and from 21 October to 30 November, SATU attendances fell by 32% and 49%.

However, in her report, National Clinical Lead with SATU, Dr Maeve Eogan commented: “Unfortunately, even during a global pandemic, sexual crime continued to occur.”

Dr Eogan stated: “This is particularly significant when considering that existing rape myths perpetuate the idea that sexual violence is often the result of socialising in pub and club settings and excessive use of alcohol or drugs.

“Despite nationwide closures of these locations, there was a continued need to see and care for people in SATUs following rape and sexual assault, effectively debunking these myths.”

The report states that during the pandemic from March to December 2020, incidents were more likely to take place in a victim’s or assailant’s home at 48% vs 42% in 2019.

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The report states that in line with reports of increased domestic violence, assailants were less likely to be strangers or recent acquaintances accounting for 34% in 2020 versus 45% in 2019.

The report also states that was also an increased use of restraints – 33% vs 27% 2019 – or threats – 22% vs 18% in 2019 – by assailants during an assault.

The report records that 92% of those to attend SATUs were female with the remaining 8% being male.

On the assailants’ relationship to the victim, the report records that 20% were strangers while 15% were a friend, 22% were an acquaintance of less than 24 hours, 14% were an intimate or ex-intimate partner with 22% being family members.

In 95 cases – or 13% – reported to SATUs last year were unsure if a sexual assault had occurred.

On the issue of alcohol and drug use, 285 or 39% of sex assault victims had consumed more than six standard drinks with 153 or 21% consuming less than six standard drinks in the 24 hours prior to the incident.

The study of service users found that 254 – or 35% – had consumed no alcohol in the prior 24 hour period.

The report found that 125 – or 17% – were concerned that drugs – including alcohol – had been used to facilitate sexual assault.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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