But there is a shortage of specific services for child victims of sexual violence, with only three such facilities in the country.
The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) said it expected to see “more and more” teenage victims of sexual violence in the coming years.
Publishing the 2010 National Rape Crisis Statistics Annual Report, the umbrella body said 79 children attended rape crisis centres last year.
Of these, 47 were accompanied to sexual assault treatment units (SATUs) — about 20% of all such cases.
RCNI director Fiona Neary said she expected to see more under-18s, which she said was due to more coming forward and due to the increased number of SATUs, which provide medical examination services to both adults and children.
She said rape crisis centres were beginning to see children between the ages of 15 and 18, and sometimes as young as 14, being “abused, targeted and victimised” in a way more similar to how adult woman are abused than to how young children are.
Ms Neary said she “strongly suspected” that SATUs will see “more and more” of this age group. However, she noted that the services were not available for children.
Speaking at the report launch, Mary Flaherty of Children At Risk in Ireland (CARI) said there were only three locations in the country — Dublin, Cork and Limerick — where specialist counselling and support services were available for child victims of sexual violence.
The RCNI report also found that:
* 90% of perpetrators of sexual violence were known to survivors.
* 29% of survivors were subjected to sexual violence by more than one perpetrator.
* 9% of survivors were abused as both children and adults.
* 20% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse were themselves children.
Ms Neary said a very disturbing finding among child abuse survivors was that 68% experienced the violence for years. These people typically reported the abuse many years later to rape crisis centres as adults.
The report found that almost two thirds of incidents of sexual violence occurred in either the survivor’s home or the perpetrator’s home.
In relation to survivors of child sexual violence, 49% said the perpetrator was a family member or relative, followed by friends and neighbours (30%).
Partners or ex-partners accounted for 28% of abuse on adult survivors, and family members accounted for 6%. The biggest category was friends, acquaintances and neighbours (39%).
Ms Neary said 31% of survivors reported the abuse to gardaí, which, she said, was the highest figure ever.
* rcni.ie. National 24-hour helpline 1800 778888