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Saturday 20 September 2014

Quarter of all sex attacks on women 'at hands of partner'

Emma Jane Hade

Published 09/05/2014 | 02:30

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One in 20 Irish women have experienced sexual violence in their relationships
One in 20 Irish women have experienced sexual violence in their relationships

ALMOST one-quarter of the perpetrators of sexual violence against adult women in Ireland are either partners or ex-partners.

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The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) and Women's Aid have launched a new campaign after a survey revealed one in 20 Irish women have experienced sexual violence in their relationships – with one-third being attacked numerous times.

The European-wide survey delivered shock results with more than half of these women reporting being raped by their partner at least once but one-quarter were too "ashamed or embarrassed" to report the crime or seek help.

The DRCC said almost one-quarter of the perpetrators of sexual violence against adult women in Ireland are either partners or ex-partners.

The DRCC and Women's Aid moved on the back of the hard-hitting survey results to launch a new campaign – 'Not Happily Ever After' – to highlight the support available to Irish women.

The European-wide survey was carried out by the European Fundamental Rights Agency, and 42,000 women between the ages of 18 and 74 years old were interviewed.

The DRCC CEO, Eileen O'Malley Dunlop, said: "The campaign plays on the fairy-tale notion of 'happily-ever-after' to call attention to sexual violence within relationships.

"It questions the common misconception that sexual violence is mainly perpetrated by strangers.

"This campaign aims to challenge the culture of victim-blaming that leaves women silenced and ashamed, while violent perpetrators remain outside the criminal justice system."

Margaret Martin, the director of Women's Aid, said the research proves there is significant "under-reporting of sexual violence in relationships". and that Irish women show "particularly low levels of help seeking". She said that this campaign aims to help women "overcome the shame and fear associated with this crime".

"There has only been one marital rape conviction in nearly a quarter century, since the law has been on the statute books," Ms O'Malley Dunlop added.

"In reality, women are at risk of sexual violence from their partners, exes or someone they know. Both physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences are common and reflect the repeat victimisation in relationships where there is sexual violence, coercion and control.

"We hope this campaign will encourage women to pick up the phone and speak to someone they can trust, who will understand and support them, in complete confidence."

Irish Independent

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