by Samantha Calthrop
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) has released its annual report for 2020, which details – among other things – the amount and demographics sexual crime victims who approaches the centre.
Despite the ongoing Pandemic, the DRCC was approached by 13,438 people, 6451 of whom were contacting them for the first time. In contrast, the Centre saw 14,159 people in 2019 – a very similar amount despite the various lockdowns that took place over 2020.
The DRCC’s CEO, Noeline Blackwell, said that the Pandemic had an “very damaging” effect on victims, isolating them from their coping mechanisms and intensifying their anxiety.
“Our counsellors and therapists have never seen such levels of stress and anxiety,” she said, “Our callers and clients needed much more support to heal or even stay where they were. We must note the resilience of all those who feature in our report – of the survivors who sought support and stayed the course in a very difficult year, and also of our extraordinarily committed staff and volunteers – as well as all those who supported our work throughout 2020.”
Of those who approached the Centre for support, 63.7% were from the Dublin region and 36.3% from elsewhere in Ireland.
The report was launched by TD Josepha Madigan on September 7. DRCC Chairperson Ann Marie Gill thanked donators and supporters for keeping the organisation afloat over 2020.
“We must acknowledge the generous support we received from the public in 2020, which gave us great heart and determination to continue our work. We are grateful for state support, including from Tusla and the Department of Justice, that allowed us as a frontline organisation to maintain our support and advocacy for survivors and to continue to drive reforms that tackle sexual violence and its aftermath.
“Working with victims/survivors fulfils part of our mission. As we move forward this year and in the coming years, we also need to build our mission to prevent the harm of sexual violence in the first place. This will involve our ambitious intention to build a wider understanding of consent at national level. We must reduce society’s tolerance for non-consensual sexual activity. If we do that, we will have a healthier society.”
“And we remind everyone that the National 24-Hour Helpline is there for anyone who needs support or information at any time – call 1800 778888 for free and confidential support,” she concluded.
At least 1,900 sexual offenses have been officially reported in Ireland in the past ten years, with over 3000 sexual assaults being reported in 2019.