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Increase in numbers contacting Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

16th July 2019:   Minister for Health Simon Harris launches the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) Annual Report for 2018 today which shows an increase in the numbers of male and female victims contacting the centre and attending counselling services. According to the DRCC, sexual violence is a growing problem for public health and more services are needed to cope with this increased demand.

At this point, half-way through 2019, demand for the DRCC’s services is higher than it has been for many years because more people than ever are disclosing and seeking help. The reality is that people need support in greater numbers than ever,” says Ann Marie Gill, Chairperson of the DRCC.

Latest figures show that last year there were almost 14,000 contacts to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre from people who suffered rape and sexual violence.

The DRCC, which operates the country’s National 24-Hour Freephone Helpline through a network of staff and volunteers, dealt with 13,367 contacts – approximately 270 every week in 2018. Of those callers, 77% were female and 22% were male; more than half (7,423) were first-time contacts; and almost 8% (1,040) contacted the DRCC via text message. Of those who provided their location, 65.7%, were from Dublin while 34.3% were from elsewhere in Ireland. Of those who disclosed the type of abuse suffered, 44.8% had experienced rape as adults, while 33% disclosed that they had been victims of childhood sexual abuse.

4,474 therapy hours were delivered to clients in 2018. Of the 4,228 individual counselling appointments delivered, the majority (2,187) were crisis appointments for people who had experienced a recent rape or sexual assault, i.e. in the past six months. The DRCC saw 582 individual clients for face-to-face counselling in its centres in Leeson Street as well as in its outreach centres in Coolock, Tallaght and Dóchas Women’s Prison. Almost half (45.9%) the clients using the service were under 30 years of age. 19.7% of adult rape victims cited their abuser as being a boyfriend or a partner.

A further 10% increase in the DRCC’s state funding, announced earlier this year by Minister Kathrine Zappone, will help to extend the centre’s individual services. However, this will not meet what the DRCC believes will be an ever growing demand.

In the absence of firm data, it is impossible to say whether the increase in demand for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s services is due to an increase in the level of rape and other sexual abuse, or because of a growing recognition by victims that they are not to blame, that it’s never too late to seek help and that there is help available.

The absence of data on the true extent of the problem also hampers efforts to tackle it. The last study seeking to establish the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland was the 2002 Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) report. The announcement by Government in 2018 that the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is to undertake a new study was welcome news, even if it will take up to five years to complete and will not include data on minorities or hard to reach groups.

Minister Harris also launched a new e-health initiative Moving Forward from Sexual Violence – a programme of online psycho-education backed up by telephone assessment and counselling. Moving Forward is being developed by DRCC in collaboration with UK trauma consultants and e-health solution developers, KRTS International Ltd. The programme is intended to reach out to the many people who cannot, or will not, access face-to-face services. Privately funded by philanthropic grants, this innovative new service will commence on a pilot basis later this year.

The DRCC’s Annual Report highlights a drop in the support it provided to victims attending the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital in 2018.  The unit was closed on a number of occasions in the first nine months of 2018 due to staffing difficulties.  Sexual assault victims were thus redirected to other SATUs, mostly in Mullingar, adding to the trauma they had to endure.

Thankfully, the situation improved in the last quarter of 2018 and there have been no problems so far in 2019. The Department of Health commitment earlier this year to an adequately resourced, consistent SATU service across the country will be a relief for all those who need the excellent service SATU gives victims following rape or other assaults” says DRCC CEO, Noeline Blackwell.

In addition to providing help to those who have suffered sexual violence, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre knows that much more needs to be done to prevent the harm happening in the first place. In this it mirrors other public health programmes that focus on prevention as much as they do on recovery. That awareness-raising involves the organisation highlighting issues to policy makers, politicians and decision makers as well as working with the DRCC’s networks with colleague organisations. It also involves education of young people through the Centre’s BodyRight programme, now in its tenth year.

This year sees private funding of a post dedicated to working with those who work with young people and as part of this, the Centre is currently developing an up to date resource on how to deal with pornography which will also be previewed at the launch.


Noeline Blackwell, CEO.

Editor’s Notes
1. The report will be launched at 14:00 hours (2pm) on Tuesday 16 July 2019 at Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, 70 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin by Minister Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health.


  1. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is a non-governmental, voluntary organisation which has as its mission to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of rape. It offers a suite of services to victims of sexual violence. It runs the National 24-hour Helpline for those who need it in any part of the country. It offers face to face therapy and accompaniment to the Rotunda Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, to court or to Garda stations.  With a HQ at Leeson Street, Dublin it provides outreach services at Coolock Civic Centre, Dóchas Women’s Centre, Mountjoy Prison and Tallaght Hospital. A further outreach service is due to open in Balbriggan later in the year.

In addition, the Centre engages in education, training and policy work. In 2018, DRCC provided 148 days of training to 2,816 individuals. This included its BodyRight programme aimed at those working with young people, as well as training for Gardaí, embassy staff and others delivering frontline services to those who have experienced sexual violence.

  1. Moving Forward from Sexual Violence is an online e-health initiative co-developed by DRCC and KRTS in order to increase capacity to help and support those who have experienced rape and other forms of sexual violence, and to remove barriers to accessing such support. In an innovative approach, they will have an assessment of suitability for the programme by a DRCC therapist, online modules undertaken at the user’s own pace, and telephone support. Moving Forward will add an effective accessible intervention to the current continuum of care provided by DRCC and create a new option for those who cannot or will not access face-to-face counselling. It will be piloted from October 2019 onwards.
  2. 2018 Annual Report and a summary of the statistics from the work of the Centre will be available on the website from 4pm on Tuesday 16 July 2019 www.drcc.ie
  1. We ask that when reporting on this topic, journalists remember that discussions on sexual violence can trigger personal trauma in those receiving the information. Where possible, please make reference to the National 24-Hour helpline number 1800 77 88 88 for anyone who may be affected by the discussion.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s Annual Report & Statistics 2018– The Figures

Headline figures January-December 2018

  • 13,949 contacts with DRCC clinical services in 2018 of which
    • 13,367 were National 24-Hour Helpline contacts
    • 4,228 face-to-face therapy appointments delivered to 582 clients
  • 246 Group therapy hours
  • 254 people accompanied to the Rotunda Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, court or Garda stations.
  • 148 friends or family of victims supported
  • 93 Volunteers

National 24-Hour Helpline

  • Helpline figures must be read with the understanding that some people do not disclose information which can be collected. Some people do not even speak on the phone at all and may remain silent for the duration of the call.
  • Of the 13,367 National 24-Hour Helpline contacts (phone, email, text, social media):
    • 7,423 first time contacts
    • 4,330 repeat contacts
    • 1,614 unknown
  • 77.3% were female and 21.6% male. 1.1% reported a gender identity other than female or male.
  • 2.1% of callers were under the age of 16 while 2.2% were aged between 16-17. 1.8% were over 70. The main age groups were:
    • 18-23     = 15%
    • 24-29     = 14.6%
    • 30-39     = 19.6%
    • 40-49     = 22.3%
    • 50-59     = 15.2%
    • 60-69     = 7.2%
  • 44.8% of calls related to adult rape and 11.1% to other forms of adult sexual violence. 11.1% did not disclose details.
  • 33% of calls related to childhood sexual abuse.
  • 65.7% of callers who disclosed their location were from the Dublin area and 34.3% from counties throughout the country.
  • 96.5% of callers were of Irish nationality, the remaining 3.3% represent a wide variety of nationalities.
  • March had the highest number of calls.

Face to Face Therapy Services

  • 582 clients were seen for individual counselling in 2018.
  • 246 Group therapy hours were provided.
  • 89.7% of clients attending counselling were female and 10.3% were male.
  • The main age groups were:
  • 18-23     = 27.6%
  • 24-29     = 15.3%
  • 30-39     = 24.9%
  • 40-49     = 16.5%
  • 50-59     = 9.3%
  • 60.6% of clients were victims of adult rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
  • 39.4% of clients who were victims of childhood sexual abuse were raped.
  • Of clients attending in 2018, 2.4% had a disability.

Relationship between victim and perpetrator:

  • Adult rape or sexual Assault:
    • Partner/Boyfriend = 19.7%
    • Parent = 0.7%
    • Sibling = 0.7%
    • Other relative = 1.5%
    • Person in authority = 1.8%
    • Other known person = 51.0%
    • Stranger = 23.1%
    • Sex purchaser = 1.5%
  • Childhood sexual abuse:
    • Partner/Boyfriend = 8.0%
    • Parent = 14.3%
    • Sibling = 7.1%
    • Other relative = 21.4%
    • Person in authority = 2.4%
    • Other known person = 41.2%
    • Stranger = 5.6%


Female clients disclosed 13 pregnancies as a result of rape. The pregnancy may be historic; i.e. may not have occurred in 2018.

  • Became pregnant. Parenting = 9
  • Became pregnant. Termination = 1
  • Became pregnant. Miscarried = 1
  • Became pregnant. Adopted = 1
  • Became pregnant. Fostered = 1