• By Maria

There were 1,784 calls to 1 800 77 88 88, the National 24 hour Helpline for Rape and Sexual Abuse over the Christmas period last year

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop Chief Executive of DRCC said: “Last year there were 1,784 calls to the National 24 hour helpline for rape and sexual abuse, during December and January. In October this year 31 people were accompanied to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) in the Rotunda by DRCC trained volunteers. These figures are very worrying. We know that the levels of Domestic and Sexual Violence escalate during recession times. This is borne out by the numbers of people we are accompanying to SATU in the Rotunda.

We have devised the following information in the hope that we can reach as many people as possible this Christmas and New Year period and help to prevent this crime being committed.”

Some facts to keep in mind this Christmas and New Year Period
• The legal age of consent for having sex is 17
• Under current Irish Law a person is guilty of raping another person, if they are reckless in their decision to pursue sexual contact without that person’s consent
• If a person has sex with another person without their consent it is a crime
• A person may not give their consent freely if they are asleep, are unconscious or severely impaired due to alcohol, are mentally impaired , are under 17 or have been coerced in any other way that is deemed to be reckless
• When a person is taken advantage of in any of these circumstances whereby they have not given their consent freely, they suffer the huge trauma of the effects of being raped
Some Tips to keeping safe this Christmas
• Always look out for each other and be part of a group
• Try not to get separated from your group
• Keep your drink in your hand at all times
• Do not accept a drink from someone you have just met even if he/she is a friend of a friend
• Ask someone you know and trust, to mind your drink if you have to leave it for whatever reason
• Trust your instincts; if you feel uncomfortable in a place or with someone, leave as soon as possible
• Nominate a Designated Minder for each group of 6
• Share Taxis with friends
• Make sure your mobile is charged at all times and keep the helpline free phone number
1800 77 88 88 stored in it
• If you have to travel alone, make sure you phone ahead to where you are going and give your estimated time of arrival. Make sure your driver hears you phoning ahead
• Remember 8 out of 10 victims are raped by someone known to them

Steps to be taken in the event of a rape or sexual assault:
• Call the National 24 hour Helpline if you need the help of a Rape Crisis Centre for a recent rape or childhood sexual abuse,
• If you are a family member or a friend and don’t know what to do when someone close to you has disclosed that they have been raped or sexually assaulted call this number and you will get the help you need
• Contact your parents or Guardian or a friend
• You may choose to report the incident to the Gardai
• Get the medical support you need

Our aim is to offer a safe and confidential space where women and men of all ages can be listened to and supported without shame or self-blame.

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