Half of people aged between 18 and 24 have experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Sexual harassment is defined in the survey as unwanted behaviours that a person may have experienced in their daily life which made them feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.
The survey, which involved a sample of 12,665 individuals and was published on Tuesday, found that 20 per cent of adults had experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months. Women (28 per cent) were more than twice as likely to experience sexual harassment than men (13 per cent).
Overall, younger people reported higher levels of experiencing sexual harassment in the last 12 months, with 50 per cent of those aged 18-24 saying they had, compared to 7 per cent of those aged 65 and over.
The most prevalent sexual harassment experience was where remarks of a sexual nature were made while not online - for example, in person, by text, or phone call.
This included crude or sexually explicit remarks that the person found offensive, humiliating or intimidating. Overall, 12 per cent of adults had experienced this in the last 12 months, compared with 2 per cent who had sexual images or videos of them shared without their permission.
Half of men who experienced sexual harassment in the previous year did not disclose their experience.
Women were almost four times more likely to have experienced inappropriate physical contact (15 per cent) than men (4 per cent). The majority of adults (78 per cent) who experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime knew the perpetrator.
Almost one in five women (18 per cent) experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse as an adult, compared to 3 per cent of men. This is defined as sexual intercourse where the person was coerced, threatened or forced into having sex.
Ten per cent of women experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse when they were unable to give consent. Situations where a person was unable to give consent to the type of sexual violence they experienced included when they could not give consent, or stop what was happening, because they were asleep, passed out or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For men, the highest level for non-consensual sexual touching was 17 per cent among those aged 25-34, compared with 4 per cent of those aged 65 and over.
Some of the experiences outlined in the survey included a case of a teenager persuading a friend to watch a pornographic video on their phone when they did not want to see it, someone being persuaded to undress or pose in a sexually suggestive way for photographs as a child, a young woman being made to touch another person without her consent, and a man being threatened to have sex.
The publication on sexual violence in Ireland is the fifth in a series of releases on the subject.
It found that 3 per cent of adults experienced stalking with fear of sexual violence in the last 12 months. Stalking with fear of sexual violence is defined in the survey as persistent, unwanted actions that a person may have experienced in their daily life which made them fear they were at risk of sexual violence.
Most people (70 per cent) who experienced stalking with fear of sexual violence in the previous 12 months had disclosed the matter to someone.
In a section on childhood experiences, the survey found that 11 per cent of adults experienced both contact and non-contact sexual violence as a child.
One in five adults experienced unwanted non-contact sexual violence as a child (20 per cent), the CSO found. “Non-contact” experiences were defined by the CSO as including experiences like being shown pornographic material, being asked to pose in a sexually suggestive manner for photographs, or someone exposing themselves.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Noeline Blackwell said it was timely that Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curricula in secondary schools were being updated “given the level of abuse” among young people.
She said contacts with the centre’s national helpline reflected the trend captured by the CSO data, with most coming from young people aged under 25.