Women were tonight urged to be vigilant of sexual predators who plan to target victims over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said there is a massive jump in rapes and sexual assaults over holiday periods, with attacks becoming more violent than ever.
Chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said perpetrators strike when people are more relaxed and less vigilant over the long weekends.
“Everybody has a right to let their hair down and have a good time, but unfortunately these are the times when there are also perpetrators,” said Ms O’Malley-Dunlop.
“We don’t want to scare people but we want them to be realistic.”
DRRC warned that eight out of 10 victims are raped by someone they know.
It urged women to stay safe this Easter by staying in groups, looking out for friends, holding your drink at all times, and trusting your instinct if you feel uncomfortable.
Another initiative is to nominate a designated minder for each group of six friends.
Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said over Christmas 57 people were accompanied to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in the Rotunda Hospital by volunteers – 10 more than the previous year.
She revealed high rates of attacks are also recorded each August and over holiday periods.
“There has been a number of horrific attacks recently, and we have seen more abductions where there is more than one perpetrator,” continued Ms O’Malley-Dunlop.
“Everybody has the right to walk the streets, day or night, but perpetrators are waiting to prey on people in vulnerable situations whether it is someone walking on a road or somebody who is worse for wear after having too much to drink.
“Rape and sexual assault is not about sex, that’s why they are such violent attacks.
“It is about degradation and objectifying the other and it’s a horrible act.
“But we are not just putting the onus on potential victims, we are putting the onus on the potential perpetrator by giving them the facts as well.
“People should know the age of consent is 17, what it means to rape somebody, and that if somebody is asleep or unconscious it is reckless.”
The Rape Crisis Centre national 24-hour helpline is 1 800 77 88 88.