Cuts to Rape Crisis Network funding could leave survivors without a voice

Almost 65% of the survivors of sexual violence who contacted the RCNI last year had not reported to any other authority

Cuts to Rape Crisis Network funding could leave survivors without a voice

Cliona Saidlear, Executive Director of the RCNI. Image: RollingNews

A 70% cut in state funding to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland could mean survivors of sexual violence are left without a voice.

The RCNI answered over 13,000 calls last year from people affected by sexual violence.

Almost 65% of the survivors who contacted the network's support services had not previously reported to any formal authority.

RCNI executive director Clíona Saidléar said the 65% are not visible or "heard by the state or any formal authority" without the statistics provided by the RCNI:

Ms Saidléar said the report underlines the importance of the RCNI centres as, “essential safe places for disclosure and support for survivors of sexual violence."

According to the data, nearly 90% of the survivors who contacted the RCNI were female and aged between 20 and 49.

96% of the perpetrators of sexual violence were men - with nearly 85% known to their victims.

Nearly 70% of the victims were subjected to other forms of violence as well as sexual assault.

Ms Saidléar said the database “provides the most comprehensive and detailed information on sexual violence” in Ireland.

She said the data “has policy implications for the whole of Government in terms of delivering the best response to victims and survivors of sexual violence.”

Ms Saidléar said the RCNI has received no funding from TUSLA, The Child and Family Agency, for two years.

“Last year, a cumulative 70% cut to our funding took effect and our core funding from Tusla was completely withdrawn,” she said.

She said the support services provided by the network have suffered as a result.

“We have worked hard to prioritise and support key policy areas but there is a gap opening up which needs to be urgently addressed,” she said.

“RCNI made the decision to continue operating our globally innovative and best practice data collection system without the support of Tusla, as there is no other mechanism possible to give voice to these survivors who are otherwise silenced.”

Image: RollingNews.ie

The report also gathered survivor feedback on their experiences dealing with an Garda Síochana.

It found that in terms of sensitivity; contact levels and information more survivors were satisfied with their experiences with the gardaí than in 2014.

69% of survivors who reported to the gardaí said they were treated in a sensitive manner, that their complaint was taken seriously and the Gardaí were attentive, sympathetic and supportive - a six point increase on the previous year.

If you have been affected by sexual violence you can contact the RCNI through their website at rapecrisishelp.ie