The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has warned that young people are “lost” when it comes to sexual consent.
Releasing its annual report this morning, the voluntary organisation warned that more people contacted the centre for help last year than ever before.
Volunteers recorded over 13,000 contacts from victims of rape and sexual violence – including 12,400 calls to its National 24-Hour Helpline.
Nearly one-third of calls for help came from people aged 29 and under.
Speaking at the launch of the report this morning, DRCC chief executive Noeline Blackwell warned that there is a real need for greater education regarding sexual consent:
“Young people are lost,” she said. “They don’t know what to do and it is true that the students we talk to, the young people we talk to, are not that clear on the boundaries around sexual activity.”
There was a 24% increase in calls to centre last year when compared to 2015 – with approximately half of those calls coming from people reaching out for help for the first time.
The organisation’s chairperson Ann Marie Gill said the sexual assaults reported are becoming increasingly more violent.
“We are basing our responses to sexual violence on the clients stories that present to us,” she said.
“What their experience has been - and as I said it is becoming more violent.
“We are also aware that social media is playing a huge influence in sexual violence.”
Ms Gill said that while the DRCC figures provide an “indication of the need that exists to tackle sexual violence” - more thorough and comprehensive data is required.
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She called on the government to undertake the necessary research to provide a clearer picture of the level of sexual violence in Ireland.
The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said education on consent is extremely important at every level – adding that it is “very important that we ensure that there is zero tolerance towards any form of sexual abuse or any acceptance of any form of sexual violence,” he said.
“That is why I am really anxious to ensure that there is a very close relationship between government and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre ensuring that every effort can be made to eliminate what is a real and serious scourge on society.”
Ms Blackwell said that around half of the people who contacted the centre last year were reaching out for help for the first time.
“Our numbers who were disclosing recent rape were up in 2016,” she said.
“Those are people who have been raped say within the past six months and are coming to us for a little bit of help at the early stages after it.
“We do appreciate it when people can do that but we also appreciate a lot that sometimes people cannot talk about things for many, many years.”
If you have been affected by anything mentioned in this article you can contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre National 24-Hour helpline on 1800 77 88 88.