DRCC & Rotunda SATU pilot extended support service at Dublin Sexual Assault Treatment Unit

04 April 2024


Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) and the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) at the Rotunda Hospital have announced a new pilot for an extended service to try to increase the number of people accessing services and support after a sexual assault.

The SATU Accompaniment Service run by DRCC is currently operated on a call-out basis. It is activated when someone attends the unit after a sexual assault or rape. This service is completely free and confidential and the DRCC support worker is there for the victim and their friends or family attending with them, throughout their time at SATU.

The emotional support and specialised information offered by this service can be very beneficial  following the trauma of sexual assault and during forensic testing, which - like any other medical examination – can be stressful. Latest figures show that approximately 3 in 4 victims are offered Rape Crisis Centre support by the SATU medical team, but 15% decline it.

Rachel Morrogh, CEO of DRCC, said: “For the first time, DRCC is going to base a support person in the SATU. We believe that by being there for patients’ follow-up appointments after their first visit, more victims and survivors of sexual violence may access psychological support and care, as well as DRCC’s other services. The pilot will be run in addition to our on-call service which will continue to support hundreds of people visiting the SATU each year.

“DRCC and SATU hope that having a support person available for opportunistic engagement may engage people who could otherwise miss out and not avail of any psychological or practical support after a sexual assault. CSO data shows that over 8 in 10 adults who experienced sexual violence and used a support service like a Rape Crisis Centre said that it was helpful. Our support workers are highly trained and can provide specialised, expert support. We want to increase the number of people who benefit from the services we offer and we hope this pilot will prove effective.

Prof. Maeve Eogan, National Clinical Lead of SATU, said: “In SATU we see first-hand the trauma caused by sexual assault but we can also see the benefit to patients of engaging with the accompaniment support workers when they come to hospital for forensic and medical treatment. Sexual violence has a devastating impact and people can be overwhelmed in its aftermath. By ensuring they have the opportunity to engage with supports at all stages of their journey, we hope to encourage healing and set people on a path to overcome the trauma in the best way for them.”

Commenting on the expansion of the accompaniment service, Dr Nicola Maher, SATU Head of Service and Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist at the Rotunda Hospital, said: “The number of people attending SATU has risen steadily over the years, and in 2023  the unit had its highest number of attendees to date with 451 patients accessing the service. It is vital that all of our patients are offered psychological support after a rape or sexual assault. By increasing accessibility to this service at the  follow-up appointment time, it is hoped that this initiative will help victims of sexual violence on their journey of healing.”

Confidential freephone 24-hour National Rape Crisis Helpline 1800 778888





Notes for editors:  

  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/survivors of sexual violence. It also offers a wide range of training and education to professionals and volunteers.  
  2. You can learn more about the work of Sexual Assault Treatment Units around Ireland at www.hse.ie/satu
  3. Other DRCC services and work: 
    • DRCC operates the National 24-hour Helpline 1800 778888 to support anyone affected by sexual violence in any part of the country. A webchat support service is available online at drcc.ie Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm. A Helpline Interpreting Service is available for those who do not speak English - more at https://bit.ly/DRCClang
    • For those contacting the Helpline who are deaf or hard of hearing, we provide a text service, operating Mon-Fri from 8am to 6:30pm, at 086-8238443 and we also have a webchat service available Monday-Friday, 10am to 5pm, except holidays.
    • Information on your options after sexual violence is available for free online at any time at www.drcc.ie/fyw in the Finding Your Way after Sexual Violence guide.
    • DRCC offers counselling & therapy to adult survivors of sexual violence and to older adolescents from 16 years of age with parental/guardian consent.
    • DRCC provides accompaniment support for the Rotunda Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, to court or to Garda stations to people in Dublin and in surrounding areas, by arrangement.   
    • We-Consent is a new long-term national programme to inform, educate and engage with all members of our society about consent. More information and resources on having consent conversations at https://www.we-consent.ie/
    • DRCC has outreach offices at Coolock, Dóchas Women’s Centre, Balbriggan & Tallaght. Access to these services must be arranged via the National Helpline 1800 778888 during working hours, Mon-Fri.   
  4. We ask that when reporting on this topic, journalists should 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 1800 77 88 88  for anyone who may be affected by the discussion.