Rape crisis services at risk over low funding

RAPE crisis services are at serious risk due to the cap on HSE funding and a decline in corporate donations, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has said.

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, head of the centre, said funds were “very low” and she did not know what was going to happen in the present climate.

The centre has been running an ad campaign appealing for donations as there has been a cap on its HSE funding which makes up two thirds of its income.

Added to this, Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said corporate donations were “down hugely”.

“Everybody is anxious at the moment and companies simply do not have the money.”

Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said there was no money left for any extras like education.

“Education towards prevention is a big part of what we do, but we have no money for this. We are trying to maintain frontline services though.”

According to the centre’s most recent figures, there was an increase in rape over the Christmas and New Year period compared to previous years.

“During the last Christmas holiday period 57 people were accompanied to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit by our trained volunteers compared to 47 the previous year,” she said.

The centre warned that more rape occurs during holiday periods and reminded people to be vigilant over the coming bank holiday weekend.

“Perpetrators strike when people are more relaxed and less vigilant over the long weekends,” Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said.

“We don’t want to scare people but we want them to be realistic.

“There has been a number of horrific attacks recently, and we have seen more abductions where there is more than one perpetrator,” she added.

The centre 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.

* If you are a family member or a friend of someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted and you need support telephone the National 24-hour Helpline at 1800-778888.

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