Rape Crisis staff help 500 get treatment
ALMOST 500 people, mostly women, were accompanied to Sexual Assault Treatment Units across the country by rape crisis workers last year.
A total of 494 visits were made with victims of sexual assault and rape.
More than half of the victims, 251, were helped by a trained worker from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC).
The majority of those seeking treatment were women, with around 470 females undergoing examinations.
Victims were of a variety of ages, from teenagers to 65-year-olds, according to the latest Rape Crisis Network Ireland figures.
Sexual violence is something that could affect anyone, said Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, the CEO of DRCC.
"People think it's one section of society, but sexual violence crosses all socio-economic sectors, all age groups and all sexes," she told the Herald. "The statistics are absolutely shocking."
There are seven Sexual Assault Treatment Units around the country, which are free to visit.
At each unit, emergency contraception and medicines to counter the risk of sexually transmitted infections can be dispensed. Forensic evidence is also collected from the victim in the event that a criminal investigation will be launched.
People who present at a unit are often understandably traumatised, Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said.
The opening of new units in Galway and Mullingar last year was a positive step because it meant people did not have to travel to Dublin for treatment, she added.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on domestic and sexual violence was published yesterday.
The establishment of specialised units within An Garda Siochana and prosecution and support services was advised.
Another suggestion was the prohibition of alleged perpetrators representing themselves in court to prevent an alleged attacker questioning a victim of a sex crime.
The DRCC 24-hour free helpline number is 1800 77 88 88.