Dublin Rape Crisis Centre launches multilingual helpline service

Interpreters in over 200 languages available to assist in calls from sexual violence victims

The interpretation service is available in over 200 languages including Polish, Lithuanian, Arabic, Farsi, French and Brazilian Portuguese. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The interpretation service is available in over 200 languages including Polish, Lithuanian, Arabic, Farsi, French and Brazilian Portuguese. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Survivors of sexual violence who do not speak English as their first language but live in Ireland are now able to seek support and guidance through a multilingual helpline phone service, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) has said.

The centre announced on Wednesday, as part of its 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, that callers to its national helpline who do not feel comfortable communicating through English will now be able to speak to a crisis counsellor through an interpreter.

The interpretation service is available in over 200 languages including Polish, Lithuanian, Arabic, Farsi, French and Brazilian Portuguese and will enable people to speak with a counsellor in their native language. While multilingual support was previously available for victims availing of face-to-face counselling and therapy at the centre, it was not on offer to people who called the helpline. Helpline interpreters will come from the UK-based Language Line interpreting company.

Speaking about sexual violence is extremely difficult for anyone, even if that person is speaking in their native language, said DRCC chief executive Noeline Blackwell. “Imagine trying to express such a difficult topic in what may be your second or third language,” she said. “And yet we know that availing of the helpline support makes a real difference to the people who call us. So we are recognising a need that exists out there.”

As more than one in ten people living in Ireland do not speak English as their first language, rape crisis supports were needed in numerous languages, added Ms Blackwell.

Callers seeking the help of an interpreter must state the language they speak when they ring the DRCC helpline. They will then be placed on hold while the operator contacts the finds an interpreter in the specific language to facilitate the session.

DRCC’s national helpline manager Michelle Grehan underlined that all calls would be “in confidence” and that there was no charge for the service. “Our focus is to provide support, to listen and to believe our callers, in a non-judgmental way, offering information and helping them to think through options in whatever way they need.

“As helpline workers, we hear how challenging it is for those who have experienced sexual violence, whether past or present, they describe feelings of isolation and fear,” said Ms Grehan.

“For those who do not have English as their first language, these feelings can be magnified. We can now listen and support these callers and be present for them in that lived experience.”

The DRCC National Helpline’s interpreting service is currently only open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 6.30pm on 1800 77 88 88 and is closed on holidays. The DRCC’s national English-language helpline is open 24 hours a day.

If you are a survivor of sexual violence and in need of help contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Helpline on 1800 77 88 88