Surge in sexual violence ‘disturbing’

An increase in sexual violence recorded by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre last year has been described as "disturbing" by its chief executive, Ellen O’Malley Dunlop.

Surge in sexual violence ‘disturbing’

“There was an increase of 672 calls from men and women in 2013 which related to adult sexual assault. This was a shocking increase of 21%, compared with 2012,” said Ms O’Malley Dunlop.

She was speaking at the launch yesterday of the DRCC’s 2013 annual report and statistics that showed 43% of calls related to adult rape — a 3% increase compared to 2012 figures.

The country’s national helpline for victims of rape and sexual assault (1800 778888) dealt with almost 12,200 calls last year, the highest figure since 2009.

More than 9,613 were genuine counselling contacts, an increase of 5% compared with 2012 figures. More than one in five callers were male.

In 2009, calls to the helpline reached an all time high due to the publication on the Ryan Report on institutional child abuse and the Murphy Report into the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin.

“In 2013, there were no such damning publications but the helpline staff and trained volunteers processed the highest number of calls to the helpline since 2009.”

There were 3,928 first time callers and the number of repeat contacts last year, at 4,955, was the highest in nine years.

The report shows that 106 (37%) of the 284 people who commenced therapy last year made a report to the gardaí.

However, just five of the 106 cases were tried, resulting in four convictions or guilty pleas and one acquittal.

Of the 284 cases, 90 related to childhood sexual abuse, and 194 to adult rape and sexual assault.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop stressed that for many victims of rape and sexual assault, the helpline was often their first point of contact where they found support and information, empathy and a safe space to speak.

She said the DRCC did not know whether the increase was due to an increase in which she described as “this most heinous crime” or that more people were coming forward because they felt confident that they would be believed.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop said there was a need for a second report on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland to get behind the figures they were now presenting. The first such study was published in 2002.

She said the first SAVI report was the most comprehensive piece of research ever conducted in Ireland on beliefs and attitudes to sexual violence and confirmed the stories they were hearing from victims.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop also expressed serious concerns about funding cutbacks by as much as 30% in recent years and called for the statutory funding to be reinstated. “It is not fair, ethical nor doe it make economic sense to cut services to some of the most vulnerable in our society and, unless the grant is maintained at a reasonable level, we will not be able to respond to the needs of victims contacting us.”

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