First-time calls to rape crisis centre up by 20% last year

Thu, Sep 6, 2012, 01:00

THE NUMBER of first-time callers to a national rape crisis helpline increased by almost 20 per cent last year compared to 2010, according to new figures.

The data, in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre annual report, published yesterday, also shows an increase in violence accompanying rape and sexual assault.

Almost a third of cases of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse disclosed to counsellors at the centre last year included other types of violence, including physical violence, psychological abuse and threats to kill.

There were 11,839 counselling contacts to the centre last year, 3,988 of whom were seeking help for the first time. This compared with 3,282 in 2010.

There has also been a steady increase in the number of people seeking counselling for childhood sexual abuse, up by 20 per cent since 2003.

Frances Gardiner, chairwoman of the centre, described the statistics as “truly shocking”, while chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said easier access to pornography was among the reasons why “these heinous crimes” were “escalating”.

“We know from international research that the levels of violence escalate in societies during times of economic recession.

“We also know that the easy access to hardcore pornography further fuels attitudes of objectification . . . and leads to unimaginable dehumanisation of both victims and perpetrators.”

Of the 537 clients who had counselling and psychotherapy at the centre, 88.3 per cent were female and 11.7 per cent male.

Some 91 of the counselling clients reported the crimes to gardaí, and 52 per cent concerned a recent rape, 16.5 per cent a past rape, 3 per cent recent childhood abuse and 27.5 per cent past childhood abuse.

In cases reported to gardaí, an increasing proportion (66.6 per cent) of people had been raped or sexually assaulted by someone they knew. In the past, clients were more likely to contact gardaí if they had been raped or assaulted by a stranger.

Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said it was good that more people were reporting the crimes and seeking help. There was however a “big gap between reporting the crimes and cases getting to court”. Once in court conviction rates were high.

Helpline: 1800-778888