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12th Sep 2021

Sexual abuse survivors facing “lack of privacy” during pandemic, says DRCC

Tara Trevaskis Hoskin

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre launched their 2020 annual report today, with 13,438 calls made to their helpline and 83% of the contacts being women. 

The 2020 lockdowns brought many things to a halt but the work of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) was ongoing. “While the courts also suffered from Covid disruption our work supporting survivors was as busy as ever,” said Anne Marie Gill, chairperson of the DRCC, at the launch of their report today. 

The percentage of people who made contact with the DRCC last year was also overwhelmingly female at 83%. Minister of State, Josepha Madigan reflected on this, stating: “Sexual violence against women can be seen as the very worst element of a culture that does not view women as fully equal members of society. 

“Over the last few months in particular I can only imagine the trauma of victims who may have felt trapped either at home or in another setting, at a time when society felt closed and perhaps distant. Today’s report gives us a sense of some of that trauma.”

The pandemic heightened many issues that already exist in society for victims of sexual violence, as well as those heightened by restrictions.

Those availing of the charity’s 24hr helpline faced added difficulties with the pandemic. “Three aspects of the service that have become more pronounced during the Covid-19 pandemic are isolation, lack of privacy and fear of judgement,” said Michelle Grehan, national helpline manager at DRCC. 

“We listened to callers describing how all of their usual supports seemed to vanish,” she said.

People were finding it difficult to cope with past traumas as their usual supports were no longer available to them. The reports states it was harder for people to find privacy to speak to the helpline as many were stuck at home with their family, and even in some situations, their abusers.  

In October 2020, the DRCC was able to launch its webchat service which could provide a greater level of privacy and support to those struggling.

Their counselling services also were forced to change to remote settings. Even under such limiting circumstances, there were 6,010 therapy sessions delivered in 2020, a 30% increase from the amount delivered in 2019. 

Minister Madigan also stressed the importance of education around consent in schools during the launch. “I also welcome moves at third level, in particular, to ensure that lessons on consent are a core part of the third-level experience,” she said.

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article you can contact the DRCC’s 24hr national helpline on 1800 77 8888.