Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, has welcomed a review of treatment for sexual assault victims by the Department of Health.
Details of the review of the State’s six sexual assault treatment units in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Mullingar, Letterkenny and Waterford were announced by the Minister for Health Simon Harris on Thursday.
It calls for increased resourcing for the units to ensure a sustainable service into the future, and the introduction of more holistic care for patients over the long term. Staff supports should be increased to resolve systemic under-management and greater uniformity of services needs to be introduced.
Ms Blackwell told RTE radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that at present all units are “significantly under-resourced” and she welcomed the review which she says “will make a huge difference.”
She pointed out that people who are victims of rape or assault are in a state of shock and if the recommendations in the report are implemented “they will improve the situation enormously.”
According to the report, about 50 patients had to travel to a unit outside their local area, leading to delays in their treatment. The extra travel involved added to their trauma.
According to one patient quoted in the report: “It was nerve-wracking, it was very emotional waiting so long. I would rather get it over and done with quickly.”
Ms Blackwell said such circumstances added to the trauma for victims who had done nothing wrong yet had to travel in a garda car for a long distance to receive treatment.
“It can take time, it can be very difficult and it’s never easy.”
She pointed out that the numbers attending the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre are growing every year with more people needing help. “This could be that more are disclosing or that more assaults are happening. The Garda figures can’t tell us that. But undoubtedly the numbers are increasing.”
Ms Blackwell said that one in five callers to the Centre’s crisis 24-hour helpline is male while 10% seeking therapeutic help are men.
She said: “It can be harder for some men to seek help.”