• Clodagh Meaney

Rape Crisis Centres see 98% increase in contacts during COVID-19 lockdown

The duration of calls to the service increased by 83 percent also

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) have revealed that their services have seen a 98 percent increase in contacts during COVID-19 lockdown.

The research compiled data from six Rape Crisis Centres from across Ireland.

In a report released today, RCNI revealed that between March 1st and June 30th the number of survivors contacting Rape Crisis Centre helplines for counselling and support increased significantly compared to the same period last year.

The duration of calls made to the services have also increased by 83 percent.

The number of calls to their information helpline increased by 69 percent compared to the same period last year.

55 percent of those who contacted the service disclosed rape as the nature of abuse perpetrated against them, with 25 percent citing childhood sexual abuse, and 14 percent citing sexual assault.

The remainder did not disclose the nature of the sexual violence perpetrated against them.

Reasons the network believe calls have increased include: "Demands of stay home measures resulting in the erosion or removal of survivors’ coping strategies in dealing with pre-existing trauma; increasing need for mental health resilience as a result of stay home measures" and "lack of opportunity to compartmentalise and hold boundaries on trauma of sexual violence."

During lockdown, services have seen an increase in survivors of all age groups contacting Rape Crisis Centres for support, but the largest increase has been women aged 40-49.

RCNI Executive Director, Dr Clíona Saidléar said: “From our conversations with counsellors and managers in RCCs we believe that this is in a large part due to the lockdown measures triggering past trauma."

"This age cohort are often holding multiple responsibilities such as care of children and elders as well as unemployment, increasing pressures at this time," she continued.

Alongside this, data shows that 781 children and young people between 12 and 23 engaged with services.

Dr Saidléar continued, "We are so glad that children and young people who needed rape crisis support reached out and found us. We do remain concerned for children during this period and know that there are many who have not been able to ask for support and help."

"We need redoubled Government and Tusla commitment to ensure that Rape Crisis Centres, alongside other specialist services and partners, the Gardaí, Sexual Assault treatment Units and children’s specialist services will be here when they do."

If you have been affected by any of the themes in this article, please reach out:

Find a Rape Crisis Centre near you.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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