There was a surge in crisis calls to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre as COVID restrictions were eased last summer.
The DRCC annual report finds that there was a drop in calls to the national helpline in 2020 compared to previous years.
The centre has noted that some victims felt they were unable to safely call during lockdown – with some confined in the same space as their abuser.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, DRCC Chief Executive Noeline Blackwell said crisis appointments trebled when the restrictions were finally eased.
“What happened during the time of the greatest restriction was that those who were at risk tended to withdraw into themselves because they didn’t have either the headspace or the physical privacy to contact the helpline and seek out the help they needed,” she said.
“Then, possibly as a result of that, there was a surge in the summer and we were able to deal with some of the people who were looking for help during that time.
“These crisis appointments as we call them, we talk about people who have had a recent incident of rape or sexual abuse and who are looking for help.”
Ms Blackwell said it is really important for people to remember that even though normal life was shit down during lockdown, rape and sexual abuse continued.
She said sexual violence remains an epidemic in Irish society and should be dealt with just like other epidemics.
The report also notes that just a third of the people attending its counselling and therapy sessions had reported the crimes committed against them to Gardaí.
Ms Blackwell said while it is coming from a very low base, the number of people the DRCC supported in reporting the crimes actually doubled in 2020 compared to 2019.
“It is a crime where very few people report compared to other crimes,” she said.
“There are a number of reasons for that we know. First of all, it can be hard enough for people to say it to themselves let alone say to the Gardaí that they want to initiate a complaint.
“Then if they are going to initiate an investigation, for the most part, they are starting an investigation against someone they know. It could be someone in their family, it could be someone at work or in their social circle.”
She said the increase in people reporting may be a little bit of a change but warned that the system needs an overhaul.
“The reforms that were announced by the Department of Justice in the system in 2020 we are really supportive of those and we will continue to support them because the way the system supports people is really poor,” she said.
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