Mary Crilly made the comments yesterday after she was bestowed with a Cork Person of the Year monthly award.
In 1983, Ms Crilly became the first person in Cork to introduce counselling and support to women, men, and teenagers who have experienced sexual violence or child sexual abuse.
Since then she has been to the fore in running the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork City and has been given the Cork Person of the Month award for March by its organiser, Manus O’Callaghan.
She and her dedicated team engage in research, provide training and education, and work with the Government, statutory, and voluntary agencies in order to influence social policy.
The services to survivors of rape and sexual assault are free of charge and provided by highly experienced professional staff.
“We acknowledge the courage it takes to make the first phone call to the centre at 1800 496496, or to visit us at 5 Camden Place, Cork City,” said Ms Crilly.
As director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, she called for separate courts to deal with sexual assaults and rapes and a commitment by An Garda Síochána to prioritise investigations into child sexual abuse, where digital technology is a factor.
“We get thousands of calls to our helpline every year and hundreds of callers to Camden Place,” she said. “The courage of those people have kept me here all these years.”
The Sexual Violence Centre is involved in a wide range of activities. Its most important work is the direct provision of services to the survivors of rape, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.
Information, advice, and support are available where someone finds themselves a victim of rape or sexual assault, for adult survivors of child sexual abuse, and those experiencing sexual harassment or domestic violence.
People who use the service vary in age and come from a wide range of backgrounds. Callers are young and old, women and men, of different nationalities and ethnicities.
The door of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre is open to all, irrespective of the nature of the sexual violence they experienced or when it occurred.