Ellen O'Malley Dunlop: It could be your friend, your sister, your brother, your daughter
Rape Crisis Centres are frontline services first and foremost, as is clear from the launch of the 2012 Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) Annual Report yesterday. Each and every person using the service is a daughter, a son, a wife, a husband, a sister, a brother, a mother, a father, a family member and part of a community.
Irish research on prevalence of sexual violence (SAVI Report, Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland, 2002, McGee et al) tells us that four in ten women and one in four men have been victims of sexual crimes in Ireland. Whether you know it or not there is someone you know who has been a victim of these most heinous crimes.
It is difficult to take in the fact there are so many victims of this crime in Ireland. Sometimes it's easier to pretend you don't know about it and then attitudes to the crime may not be thought out. This enables myths like "she was asking for it" ... "did you see how she was dressed" etc, to abound. While opinions on sexual violence are difficult to change due to a culture of denial, disbelief and blaming the victim, we believe that – slowly but surely – attitudes are changing. However, we must not become complacent. We must support everything that contributes to attitudinal shifts. We still have a long way to go.