Almost two thirds of victims of sexual violence do not report their assault to the gardaí and 85% of survivors know their attacker.
Furthermore, just 35% of victims of sexual assault engaged with the 11 rape crisis centres around Ireland had reported a crime to any kind of formal authority.
The data is contained in the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland’s (RCNI) annual report for 2015 which gathers the information from rape crisis centres around the country.
Other statistics show 88% of survivors were female and 83% were aged 20 to 49 years of age.
In total, 96% of all perpetrators were male and 85% of them were known to their victim. However, when it came to children, 99% knew their attacker.
The findings of yesterday’s report undermine the “stranger danger” myth when it comes to sexual violence in Ireland, in that most perpetrators were known to their victim.
Just 19% of adult survivors experienced so-called stranger rape whereas only 1% of child survivors under the age of 13 had such an experience.
For children under the age of 13, the perpetrator was most commonly a relative, neighbour, friend, acquaintance or an authority figure.
For those over age 18, the perpetrator was usually a friend or acquaintance or a partner or ex-partner.
Clíona Saidléar, executive director of RCNI, said that she is most concerned with the fact that people are not reporting their assault to the authorities.
“The figure I’ve been talking about is the 65% who don’t report (their assault to the authorities) but who go to rape crisis centres.
“They have no other voice bar this data, without this they go silent again in terms of transforming national policy, in terms of being heard at that level,” said Ms Saidléar.
However, not only is the under-reporting an issue but so too is the data collected around sexual violence in Ireland, as the RCNI’s funding has been so severely cut.
“Last year, a cumulative 70% cut to out funding took effect and our core funding from Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) was completely withdrawn,” she said.
This cut in funding means Ireland could lose any qualitative data that it has on sexual violence and therefore have no information whatsoever on which to build preventative policy.
“In the absence of a prevalent study what we have is what we know in rape crisis centres, it fills the gap, it’s certainly not the whole picture, it’s one part of the picture,” said Ms Saidléar,
“The gardaí have one part of the picture, we have one part of the picture and social services will have another. If we’re not gathering that we’re letting really critical pieces of an already silenced area fall through the cracks.
“This (qualitative data) is absolutely under threat in Ireland at the moment, no question. We have such a dearth of information.”
In total, 11 rape crisis centres fielded 13,208 helpline contacts last year.
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