Rape and child abuse endemic, says campaigners
Published 16/11/2010 | 14:07
Rape and child sexual abuse are endemic in Ireland and are not going away, campaigners warned today.
The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) fears fewer victims will be able to bring sex attackers to court if funding for vital services is cut in the upcoming Budget.
The agency's annual statistics for 2009 showed almost nine out of 10 survivors knew their attacker.
Fiona Neary, RCNI director, said: "Hundreds and hundreds of men women and children contact rape crisis centres every year for support.
"Sexual violence is common in Ireland; it's endemic, and it's not going away.
"Some of our figures are quite shocking. Even we were surprised to see 69pc of those abused as children were abused by more than one person.
"Most are seeking help for abuse that happened in their childhood, by someone in their family, and that abuse is still affecting their daily lives."
RCNI said counselling and support was given to 1,588 people who attended 13 rape crisis centres around the country in 2009.
Almost 12,400 calls were made to its helpline and 158 victims were accompanied to sexual assault treatment units, medical examinations or court.
Six out of 10 had been abused as children and 30pc raped as adults. One in 10 women revealed they were abused both in childhood and as an adult.
Men accounted for 15pc of survivors.
For children, half of the perpetrators had been family members and a third were friends or neighbours. Seven out of 10 victims revealed the abuse continued for years.
For adults, half of the sex attacks were carried out by a friend, neighbour, partner or ex-partner. A sixth were raped by a stranger.
"The family home for some children and some women remains the site of most of the sexual violence they experience," continued Ms Neary.
"For many the family home is not a place of refuge and safety; it's a place of abuse and these people need help."
Figures show only one quarter of sex attack victims attending rape crisis centres reported their ordeal to the Garda, and a sixth went for help had not told anyone else about their experience.
Men and women attacked as adults were more than twice as likely to report allegations than those who suffered as children.
Ms Nearly said victims are more likely to report and to go to court if they have support.
"If their are cutbacks and if services cannot provide support, less people will go to court, less perpetrators will be held to account and, we may see more sexual violence in Ireland," she added.