ALMOST 1,500 CALLS were made to the Sexual Violence Centre Cork in 2016.
The centre’s telephone helpline received a total of 1,436 calls last year and it received 1,006 messages through its text service, its annual report found.
The organisation provides services to victims of sexual violence, their families and friends, along with providing support to professionals and voluntary groups to assist victims.
A total of 1633 counselling sessions were offered by the centre to victims of sexual assault. Just over half (52%) of the centre’s clients were adult rape or sexual assault victims.
Nine in 10 victims that availed of the centre’s services were female.
“One in five women in Ireland experience sexual violence. We have a conviction rate of 5%. Only one in four victims report to the gardaí. Sexual violence is about power and control. It is about misogyny,” Sexual Violence Centre Cork director Mary Crilly said.
Crilly also called for better conversations to be had about consent:
“Recent times have seen conversations and campaigns about consent. Consent is not grey. There is consensual sex and there is sexual assault. There is nothing in-between.
My hope for the conversations around consent and the consent workshops in third level institutions is that victims of sexual violence, their families, their friends and peers will acknowledge sexual violence – victims will be believed, victim blaming and rape culture will enter into decline.
The report revealed that one in four assaults took place in the person’s own home, while 23% happened outdoors and 22% in the perpetrator’s house.
The report also found that 35% of people who availed of services within the centre were students.
Crilly said that they are passionate about engaging with second and third level students.
“Our young people can turn rape culture around. They can dissipate the myths. They can create a world where sexual violence is not tolerated,” she said.
Other minority groups engaged with the centre’s services including the homeless (6%), LGBT people (5%), people with a disability (3%) and people living in direct provision (3%).
Meanwhile, only 45% of clients reported their assault to the gardaí.
2016 saw a number of developments in the area of sexual violence.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill passed through the Dáil and Seanad. It was enacted on 27 March and addresses:
- A statutory definition of consent
- New offences in relation to the sexual exploitation of persons with disabilities
- New offences in relation to the sexual exploitation of children including grooming, and the use of technology to facilitate this type of abuse
- The criminalising of purchasing sexual services
The Sexual Violence Centre Cork freephone is available Monday to Friday from 9-5pm at 1800 496 496. Further support and information can be found here.