Rape helpline sees 300pc rise in first-time calls
First-time callers to a helpline for rape victims soared by more than 300pc directly after the release of two sickening reports into clerical sex abuse, it emerged today.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) said volunteers answered 14,289 calls during 2009 - with more than half of those who needed help revealing they suffered childhood sex abuse.
A further 11,670 calls were made to 13 other helplines nationwide.
Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, DRCC chief executive, said demand for services was unprecedented last year due to the impact of the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports on institutional and clerical sex abuse.
"While the DRCC had heard a lot of these stories over its 30 years in service, the public acknowledgement and belief in what was contained in these reports, enabled large numbers of victims, for the first time, to feel vindicated and to come forward and speak out," she said.
"These calls were harrowing."
The DRCC 2009 annual report revealed:
- 14,289 calls were received to its 24-hour helpline, a 12pc rise.
- 10,914 were genuine counselling calls, with the rest wanting legal information or hanging up.
- 4,188 were from first-time callers, a 41.5pc rise over the year.
- However, in May and June, just after the Ryan Report, a 344pc increase in first-time callers was recorded, with a 300pc rise in November and December after the Murphy report.
- More than half of all genuine calls - 53pc - related to childhood sexual abuse, an increase of 8pc.
- The rest of calls related to adult sexual violence, of those 38pc related to rape, 6pc sexual assault, 1pc sexual harassment and drug-related rape 0.5pc.
- 36pc reported physical violence, psychological abuse and intimidation in addition to sexual assaults.
- 82pc of callers were female and 18pc were male, up 4pc.
- 286 victims of rape and sexual assault were accompanied to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in the Rotunda Hospital.
DRCC revealed that just a third of rape and sexual assault cases and 22.6pc of the childhood sexual abuse cases were reported to gardai - with seven people who faced the court all being convicted.
Some 579 clients were seen for crisis counselling and psychotherapy - almost half over childhood sexual abuse, and DRCC therapists delivered 4,530 hours of support.
Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said state funding must be maintained to sustain these vital services.
"In order to be able to respond to the increase in the demands on all our services, we need to be confident that the much appreciated grant we receive from the HSE (Health Service Executive), which covers two-thirds of our running cost, is ring fenced," she added.
"We need a firm commitment from government that they will support the work of the centre and deliver on their promise to the victims of sexual crimes and the survivors of childhood sexual abuse."