We-Consent research shows promising growth in national awareness of consent, but further engagement needed with certain groups

24 March 2024

DRCC We-Consent Research 2024
  • Third tranche of national research focused on public understanding of sexual consent launched by DRCC as part of We-Consent campaign. 
  • Key findings include:
    • Almost half (47%) of those surveyed reported a better understanding of consent than they held 12 months ago.  
    • 1 in 5 (20%) of men surveyed under 45 agreed with the statement “I’d probably keep going even if I suspect my partner is not enjoying a sexual encounter.” 


Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) today launched its third tranche of research focused on public understanding of sexual consent, as part of the organisation’s national We-Consent campaign.  

One year on from the launch of We-Consent, the latest research shows that 47% of people surveyed report a better understanding of consent than they held 12 months ago. Additionally, 48% of people surveyed reported that they now had a more positive attitude towards consent compared to a year ago.  

When asked whether they agree that “Everyone has the right to change their mind at any point during a sexual encounter, no matter how far it’s gone”, over three-quarters (76%) strongly agreed, marking an increase from 62% in 2021. A large majority 84% agreed that they would “prefer to stop things if I suspect my partner is not enjoying a sexual encounter” up from 76% in DRCC’s 2021 survey.  

However, on the statement “I’d probably keep going even if I suspect my partner is not enjoying a sexual encounter”, 1 in 5 (20%) of men under the age of 45 agreed.  

Sarah Monaghan, We-Consent Project Manager said, “We can see there has been significant progress in terms of the general public’s understanding of consent, but we know that we have much more to do.  
We-Consent aims to spark important conversations and provide people with the open, non-judgmental space to do so. Since launching last March, we have engaged with almost 1000 people through our We-Consent Conversation Workshops. We have run sessions with people from a wide variety of ages, communities and sectors. Though their backgrounds have been varied, one consistent theme has been the feedback that people felt grateful for the candid space to explore their questions. Even if they came in feeling they had a strong understanding of consent, once they were given time for a more engaging conversation, they realised they have a lot more to learn and more perspectives to consider.  

We hear from those we engage with that there is a need for more discussion about long-term relationships and how consent cannot be assumed within marriage and relationships. Consent is not a once-off conversation, it needs to be talked about regularly to ensure everyone feels happy and safe. We all know that what we need and enjoy changes throughout our lifetime, and when it comes to sex and consent this is no different.  
It is important to remember that we all have something to learn when it comes to this complex area, no matter our age, our background, our gender or our relationship status, but because the impact of not engaging and learning more can be so harmful to others, it is vital that we all make the effort to do so.” 

Rachel Morrogh, Chief Executive Officer of DRCC said: 

Changing people’s understanding of consent is essential if the elimination of sexual violence is to be achieved. DRCC is delighted that such progress has been made over the first year of the We-Consent campaign and it demonstrates the Irish public’s appetite to learn and change their behaviour so that they are better able to practice consent in their own lives.  

“The research also reveals that there are considerable challenges emerging amongst some of the groups we are seeking to engage with. We are concerned that 1 in 5 men aged under 45 years say they would ‘probably keep going’ if they thought that their partner was not enjoying a sexual experience. 1 in 5 of those surveyed think that people say ‘no’ to sex when they want to be convinced, and the same number think that sex can lack full consent but is not rape. These are beliefs that DRCC is challenging through education and awareness, but equally, we really urge anyone who comes across these ideas in their friend or family groups to call them out – our online resources can help with that. 

“We are looking forward to delivering continued progress over the second year of We-Consent and we thank our partners, the Department of Justice, Cuan, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and Community Foundation for Ireland for the support they have given us to do so.” 

The We-Consent campaign will continue for the next two years at a minimum, with consent workshops and communication initiatives being rolled out nationally to help inform and engage the population. 

Campaign research began in 2021 and was continued in 2022 as the precursor to the launch of We-Consent in March 2023. The latest tranche was part of an omnibus survey with a nationally representative sample. 

Visit We-Consent.ie for more information and resources.  

Call 24-hour National Helpline 1800 778888 for free & confidential support. 


Notes for Editors: 

1. Download an infographic summarising the research at https://www.drcc.ie/assets/files/pdf/drcc_we-consent_research_2024.pdf  

2. DRCC and creative agency Language undertook research in 2021, 2022 and 2024 amongst people in Ireland about their attitudes and behaviours towards sex, sexual relationships & consent, in order to inform the We-Consent campaign and DRCC’s broader work.  

In 2021, both a nationally representative survey and a series of focus groups were completed on DRCC’s behalf by Opinions Research and Karen Hand. 

In 2022, the second stage of research, undertaken by Opinions Research, consisted of a survey amongst a nationally representative sample of the population. This phase gathered more specific information to inform the development of a model of consent.  

The second stage also included eight group discussions among people aged 25-55 in November 2022 as well as a series of focus groups with marginalised and under-represented communities. This research was undertaken by Lorraine O Rahilly. 

In 2024, questions were included in an omnibus survey undertaken by Opinions Research amongst a nationally representative sample of the population.   

3. We-Consent is a project of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. DRCC is a non-governmental, voluntary organisation which has as its mission to prevent 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.  

4. DRCC operates the National 24-hour Helpline 1800 778888 to support anyone affected by sexual violence in any part of the country.  

  • For those contacting the Helpline who are deaf or hard of hearing, we provide a text service, operating Mon-Fri from 8 am to 6:30 pm, at 086-8238443 and we also have a webchat service available Monday-Friday, 10 am to 5 pm, except holidays. 

5. 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 refer to the National 24-hour Helpline 1800 77 88 88 for anyone who may be affected by the report.