Rape Crisis Network Ireland Executive Director Dr Clíona Saidléar Appointed to the Health Research Board

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) is delighted to announce that Executive Director Dr Clíona Saidléar has been appointed to the Health Research Board (HRB).

The HRB is the lead funding agency for health research in Ireland and oversees a €45 million investment in health research activity each year. The HRB leads and supports excellent research, generates relevant knowledge and promotes its application in policy and practice.

Says Ms Saidléar:

‘I am very honoured to have been appointed to the Health Research Board. I believe that consistent and comparable data is essential in developing policy objectives and in my role in the RCNI I have been a strong advocate for the importance of research, data and evidence to ensure that survivors of sexual violence in Ireland can access the very best care available. As the RCNI works from a feminist and equality-based ideological foundation, challenging inequalities and discrimination is a large part of my work, and I am looking forward to bringing this dedication to evidence-informed care and commitment to human rights to my role in the Health Research Board.’ 

The remaining appointees announced by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly this week are Dr Terence McWade, CEO of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and Dr Julie Ling, CEO of the European Association for Palliative Care in Belgium. The appointments run from 9th April 2021 to 8th April 2026.

10 days. 400 responses. 1 vital project to create world-class counselling for survivors.

It’s just 10 days since we launched our survivors’ survey and already over 400 people have already responded. This is truly remarkable. We are so grateful to each and every one that has taken the time and made the effort to complete our survey.

Your insights, your views, your great ideas will feed into the development of a global standard counselling service in Ireland as we begin to emerge from this pandemic.

The more responses. The better the response.

We also hope that the fact that so many have already responded that it might be encouragement for more of you to also take time to fill out our anonymous and totally secure survey. The more we hear from and the more views we get, the more we can work to improve the way counselling can respond in what is most likely going to be a hybrid world of on and off-line supports.

We know what we are asking is not easy. But, it’s important that you also know that we are not looking to cause you distress, or asking you to discuss your experience of surviving sexual violence. Instead we want to know what your experience of therapy has been like, what has helped you, what has not been so helpful, are there things that we, as professional therapists, are doing well or are there things we could do better?

We can only start to make the changes you want to see if you tell us how we can do our job better for you. This is something we are really passionate about.

Something positive emerging from COVID-19 in Ireland

And there has perhaps never been a more vital time to to re-evaluate, to re-imagine, to change what we are doing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been identified as a crucial turning point for the implementation of adequate guidelines for the protection of victims of domestic sexual and gender based violence, as well as for the proposal of new strategies for the management of domestic and gender based violence during future pandemics. The stay at home policies and lock downs have increased instances of domestic sexual and gender based violence itself, creating a “shadow pandemic within the pandemic”, as it has been called by the United Nations

Countries across the globe have reacted in very different ways. In Turkey, just last week, we saw the unlawful Presidential decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, putting women there in greater danger.

Thankfully, Ireland’s response has been to prioritise domestic and sexual violence, from the start of the pandemic. While we are still gathering data, it does seem as if this prioritisation has made a significant difference. We know from our own work that survivors of sexual violence have been reaching out to rape crisis centres. Preliminary data, taken from just six of our centres shows a 40% increase in the number of appointments filled, 22% increase in the number of helpline contacts made, and 89% increase in the text messages made to these helplines during the first six months of this pandemic when compared against the same period in 2019.

The combination of the conditions of the pandemic that we have been living with now for over a year, and the engagement of survivors with support services has had a significant impact on how we do our work. Many in the field of DSGBV are coming up with new and inventive strategies to reach out to survivors during this pandemic and beyond.

Here are the RCNI, we believe that our Clinical Innovation Project – or Counselling Survivors in an On and Off-Line World, is one of these global leading innovative strategies to change how we do things for the best and for the long-term.

We have heard from over 400 survivors. But, we want to hear from more. If you are a survivor, we want to ask you to stand with those who have already completed the survey. If you are a counsellor or a support service, perhaps you can encourage the survivors you work with to fill out our survey.

400 is a great number. But if we hear from even more of you, we will have a better chance of getting a rounded and holistic view of what is happening with regard to counselling now and, importantly, what has to happen to ensure that you get the support and professionalism you need.

Access the Survey Here

Counselling Survivors in an On and Offline World

“We can only start to make changes if you tell us what you need”

“RCNI really wants to hear from survivors of sexual violence”, says Dr Michelle Walsh, Clinical Programme Lead

Last week, the tragic circumstances around the death of Sarah Everard in the UK sparked concerns and renewed interest in Domestic, Sexual and Gender based violence throughout Ireland. In an on-line piece on March 15th, Damian Cullen of the Irish Times asked, ‘How safe are women in Ireland? Have you been through experiences of being harassed, assaulted or worse? He asked survivors to share their stories; thirty people outlined their experiences.

Victim blaming

The responses from the brave survivors who came forward mirrored the stories of survivors that we hear here at RCNI on a daily basis. They detailed incidents of stalking, sexual assault, cat calling, victimization due to gender, of women and girls feeling consistently unsafe and then being blamed for their assaults.

“I don’t want my daughter growing up to accept this is normal”

Pornography a problem

Some cited the availability of porn as part of the societal wide problem. Others recounted how menacing and threatening behaviour could even be normalised, being told by colleagues in the wake of an instance of stalking, for example, that that they should be flattered. Many survivors recounted how their experiences detrimentally effected their health and their ability to feel safe in the world. With conversations turning to “I don’t want my daughter growing up to accept this is normal” and “it’s not ok to look the other way anymore”.

“it’s not ok to look the other way anymore”

Peer influence

A number talked about peer influence and its ability to motivate and cause change, outlining strongly that men need to be part of the response in addressing the issues of sexual harassment and assault. Another, however, discussed men’s unwillingness to recognise the extent of the problem and accepting that there is a risk to being female.

Let’s talk about men

Again in the Irish Times, on Monday, March 22nd, Anne Enright, stated, “We always speak of women’s safety, let’s talk about male violence instead.” Too often we do not talk about men when we talk about male violence and that is how they like it, she said.

“We always speak of women’s safety, let’s talk about male violence instead.”

Again, a very true and valid point, which led onto a great discussion on victim blaming, its impact and how that plays out within the different sectors of our communities.

Not a male or female issue

I agree whole heartedly with both articles but for me the missing point is that sexual violence is not a male or female issue. It is a societal issue, flamed by the gender and social norms that we are all exposed to consciously and sub consciously from birth. It is only when we become aware of this and over time when we reimagine and recalibrate the gender and social norms that we ascribe to that we can start making a difference to the unacceptable level of gender based violence that happens in our country – and particularly and crucially – to the way we treat those who have been exposed to its effects.

We can make changes

I believe that as a country we can make the changes we have to and that is precisely what we here at RCNI are working towards. We are constantly trying to improve the systems that survivors have to navigate in order to gain help.

Standardised counselling is key

Our new Clinical Innovation Project, entitled Counselling Survivors in an On and Off -line World forms a critical part of this push for change. It is about ensuring that survivors attending for counselling receive a uniformed standard of care, whether they attend a rape crisis centre or a private therapist.

Your input is vital

Over the past three months we have engaged with over 750 counsellors and psychotherapists, from a multitude of backgrounds including those within our own sector. Our work has been focused on exploring where our strengths and weakness as therapists are, collaborating with each other for the benefit of all survivors.

We want to hear from you – survivors

We are now moving to a critical part of our work – talking to survivors. We are not looking to cause you distress, or asking you to discuss your experience of surviving sexual violence. Instead we want to know what your experience of therapy has been like, what has helped you, what has not been so helpful, are there things that we, as professional therapists, are doing well or are there things we could do better?

We can only start to make the changes you want to see if you tell us how we can do our job better for you. This is something we are really passionate about. This project is not going to stop sexual and gender based violence but we hope that it will give everyone working in this sector more understanding, more evidence and clarity about how we can move forward in a new post-pandemic world. We also hope it will help us to challenge the social gender norms that we continue to hold as a society – to help break the culture that regrettably and wrongly makes the world far less safe for women and girls.

Change has to begin somewhere. If you do what you always do, you’re going to get what you always get. With your help, your experience, your bravery we can begin to transform the way we respond to sexual violence.

Clinical Innovation Project: Q&A session for mental health professionals

Responding to the Trauma of Sexual Violence in a Post-Pandemic World

 

RCNI launches innovative training and research programme to address Counselling Survivors of Sexual Violence On and Off-Line

 

On January 14th, RCNI launched its Clinical Innovation Project: Working with Dr Jessica Taylor, of www.victimfocus.org.uk, to co-create a training for, and with, counsellors and therapists in the area of sexual violence.

 

The new programme combines both critical research and training. The programme will gather evidence and understanding around the impact of dealing with the trauma of sexual violence in a pandemic world, and how practitioners have responded. Secondly, RCNI and Dr Jessica Taylor will deliver a CPD recognised training programme, taking into account the evidence, to fast track learning and upskilling to counsellors. This will ensure that survivors can be confident that the services they are accessing, whether in person, or remotely, are of the highest quality.

 

The programme will also complement the implementation of the O’Malley Report, Supporting a Victim’s Journey: A plan to help victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases.

 

Future-Proofed Training

 

The new training programme Counselling Survivors On and Off-Line will:

 

  1. Create a specialist and standardised suite of training for those working with survivors of sexual violence;
  2. Ensure that these trainings are accredited and recognised as CPD best practice by key stakeholders, including Government;
  3. Create a register to ensure that all those working with survivors in this post-Covid era have completed the training as the gold standard;
  4. Create an on-line community of practitioners connected to survivors through safe online platforms.
  5. Complement and strengthen other projects and programmes like the O’Malley report training.

 

The first piece in this project is a Q&A session for mental health professionals, which will be facilitated by RCNI’s own Dr Michelle Walsh, and Dr Jessica Taylor. This will take place over Zoom, and places can be booked here.

 

Counselling Survivors in an On and Offline World – Date for Your Diary

Date for Your Diary:

Thursday January 14th 2021 – 10:30am to 11:30am

Join Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) and our very special project co-creator and trainer Dr Jessica Taylor, UK based forensic  psychologist, survivor and author of Why Women Are Blamed for Everything for the launch of our pioneering new training standards programme.

Counselling Survivors in an On and Offline World

Delivering world standard trauma counselling for survivors of sexual violence in a post-pandemic world

Specialist, Standardised, Safe

This Clinical Innovation Programme (CIP) has emerged from the experience of Covid-19 when we had to vacate Rape Crisis Centres and trauma counselling services had to move on-line. While restrictions may be lifted in 2021, remote trauma counselling is here to stay, as part of a new hybrid model of on and off-line clinical counselling.

But it’s vital that we know that what we are doing in this new post-pandemic era is working, is of the highest standard possible, is recognised and is completely survivor centred.

That’s why RCNI is already developing and spearheading this ground-breaking new programme to co-create a remote working CPD standard and accredited training.

You are invited to learn more about our aims, our evidence and our proposed methodology and to find out how you can join our first workshop with Dr Jessica Taylor on January 25th, 2021.

Our initiative is supported by Rethink Ireland, through the Innovate Together Fund, a collaboration between Rethink Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development. The Fund supports charities’ innovative responses to the Covid-19 crisis that will provide lasting change.

Further information on how you can register for the on-line launch will follow.

Download the Invitation here

Job Vacancies – Rape Crisis North East are Recruiting for Two Positions

Please see the job descriptions and details re: applying provided by RCNE below:

 

Fully Accredited Senior Counsellor/Psychotherapist 

Rape Crisis North East provides a professional, free counselling & support services to female and male survivors of all types of sexual violence in Dundalk, Drogheda and Castleblayney.

We are committed to delivering our services with care and professionalism and continue to strive to ensure that we provide the best service for all our clients.

We are looking for a dynamic and highly motivated individual to join our team at RCNE.

2 days – 14 hours Weekly

The ideal candidate will:

· Be fully qualified & accredited member of IACP, IAHIP, PSI, ICP.

· Have experience and/or training in working with sexual violence.

· Have experience in working with adolescent and adult clients.

· Demonstrate excellent communication skills.

· Demonstrate great warmth and the ability to empathise.

· Periodically liaise with other professionals and organizations as appropriate and represent the organizations at meetings, seminars, presentations etc.

· Work as part of the Clinical Team.

· Report to the Manager of RCNE.

The successful candidate shall be required to:

· Work within the ethos and philosophy of RCNE

· Liaise with clients and their families as appropriate with regard to assessments, outcomes, interventions and reviews.

· Receive ongoing supervision.

· Actively participate in RCNE internal meetings e.g. staff meetings, clinical meetings as appropriate.

· Periodically liaise with other professionals and organizations as appropriate.

· Take responsibility for one’s own continued professional development.

· Keep up to date with best practice and procedures in line with the Code of Ethics of IACP, IAHIP, PSI or equivalent governing body.

· Flexibility is required as you may be required to work outside of opening hours.

(Scale for this post is based on Professional Qualified Social Worker Scale = €40,619 to €59,053 pro rata) Note: the successful candidate will be required to complete a Garda Vetting application form. Please email your resume to manager@rcne.ie.

Closing date for applications is 5.00pm, Friday 20th November 2020

 

 

External Supervisor’s position.

Rape Crisis North East are Recruiting for An External Supervisor’s Position. Rape Crisis North East provides a professional, free counselling & support service to female and male survivors of all types of sexual violence in Dundalk, Drogheda and Castleblayney. We are committed to delivering our services with care and professionalism and continue to strive to ensure that we provide the best service for all our clients. All aspects of Centre work are rooted in a feminist and survivor led approach. The Centre is a member of RCNI and abides by its best practice standards. All our counsellors are accredited or working towards accreditation with IACP, have additional training in rape and sexual abuse and are committed to their own personal and professional development.

We are looking for a Supervisor to provide supervision to support RCNE Counsellors.

Supervision is: A supportive, reflective and learning space in which to consider and examine all aspects of clinical work and to receive support, guidance and feedback as a means of fostering personal and professional best practice, and to ensure the welfare of clients engaged with the services of Rape Crisis North East.

The ideal candidate will:

• Be fully qualified & accredited supervisor and member of IACP, BACP, IAHIP.

• Have experience and/or training in working with sexual violence.

• Have experience in working with adolescent and adult clients.

• Demonstrate excellent communication skills.

• Demonstrate great warmth and the ability to empathise.

• Work as part of the Clinical Team. • Report to the Manager of RCNE.

Supervision Arrangements

• Supervision will usually take place in Rape Crisis North East, unless circumstances arise where a therapist needs additional supervision and it is more convenient for both therapist and supervisor to meet elsewhere, following consultation with Manager.

• Supervision will be facilitated during work hours Payment will be at a rate of €70.00 per hour.

Payment will be on foot of monthly invoice.

Note: the successful candidate will be required to complete a Garda Vetting application form. Please email your resume to manager@rcne.ie. Closing date for applications is 5.00pm Friday 27th November 2020.

 

 

 

Rape Crisis Centre’s Services are here to help during Covid-19

We understand that this may a particularly difficult time for sexual violence survivors. Based on the advice of Government with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 16 Rape Crisis Centres nationwide are adjusting to maintain services to clients and other users of their services, while observing best practice to combat infection.

Centers are currently providing telephone or online counselling and support, but our buildings are closed in order to protect the health and well-being of everyone.

We ask that anyone wishing to discuss any matter with a staff member to contact their local Rape Crisis Centre by phone or email. We are here to help.

Helpline

The National 24-Hour Freephone Rape Crisis Helpline 1800 77 88 88 remains open for those who need to access crisis support.

Please find your local centre here www.rapecrisishelp.ie or telephone:

Carlow & South Leinster Rape Crisis & Counselling Centre – 1800 72 77 37

Donegal Sexual Abuse & RCC – 1800 44 88 44

Kerry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre – 1800 63 33 33

Mayo Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 23 49 00

Rape Crisis Midwest – 1800 31 15 11

Rape Crisis North East (RCNE) – 1800 21 21 22

Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre, Sligo Leitrim and West Cavan – 1800 75 07 80

Waterford Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre – 1800 29 62 96

Galway Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 35 53 55

Dublin RCC – 1800 77 88 88

Cork Sexual Violence Centre – 1800 49 64 96

Athlone Midland Rape Crisis Centre –  1800 30 66 00

Regional Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre Tullamore – 1800 32 32 32

Wexford Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Service – 1800 33 00 33

Kilkenny Rape Crisis & Counselling Centre – 1800 47 84 78

Tipperary Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 34 03 40

Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre NI – 0808 802 1414

We must recognise how pornography affects young women

For the majority, men’s violence against women does not disturb their capacity to ‘realise their own potential’. But for women, we bear it and we become mentally unwell under its burden, writes Clíona Saidléar

The second ‘My World Survey’ into child and youth mental health shows us that there is not just one world — there are many worlds for our young people.

But we are largely only talking about one of them, the gender-neutral one.

This report of youth mental health organisation Jigsaw, by Prof Barbara Dooley and her research team in UCD’s Psychology department, was launched last week.

This report provides a rich seam of evidence that is painstakingly sex- disaggregated and indeed other intersectional traits that might give you a different experience of the world, because the world treats you differently.

Some of these differences are so stark it is questionable whether it is correct to subsume these differences under the generic heading ‘young people’ — it is certainly not helpful.

From our standpoint, the starkest statistic in this report is about the people aged 18-25, who consume pornography weekly. Some 17% of females in the survey did so weekly and 73% of the males.

But under that disparity is the even more stark evidence of impact.

The study found young women who consume pornography in this manner “were more likely to be in the very severe category of depression”, whereas no such pattern was visible for their male counterparts.

For RCNI, this finding should not surprise us. After all, pornography is, in fact, predominantly sexualised images of men being sexually violent and degrading towards women for pleasure. Can we be surprised that women frequently exposed to this are depressed?

It is possible that the young women did not become severely depressed through their frequent viewing of relentless misogyny, as cause and effect are not distinguished in this statistic. A possibility is that the young women were already severely depressed before starting a habit that their mentally-well counterparts resisted.

This is an even more damning explanation for this statistic.

Unfortunately, it also means that young men choose to consume this weekly dose of misogyny without any measurable significant mental ill-health to begin with and without the significant negative impact on their mental wellbeing.

While both females and males who consumed pornography regularly have lowered body-esteem, the sex-based disparities remain stacked in one direction. The logical conclusion is that young men’s world view and prospects are relatively undisturbed by this exposure to pornography. Their world is already one where violent misogyny is normal.

And it is. The same survey found that 1 in 4 women (aged 18-25) reported being raped.

Over half (56%) of young women reported that they had been touched against their will or without their consent, with 25% of the women reporting being forced or pressured to have sex, or in other words rape, as against 23% and 10% of men respectively. The survey does not tell us what sex the person perpetrating the non-consensual touching or sex was.

The women who experienced non-consensual sexual touching were also more likely to be in the very severe range of depression or anxiety. The men were not.

Throughout this report we see both young boys and girls mental health indicators plummeting as they move through puberty into adulthood, but significantly more so for girls on almost every count including suicide attempts, self-harm, body-esteem, and perceived personal competency.

The WHO defines mental wellbeing as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

When your ‘normal stresses of life’ include a one in four chance of being raped, is anxiety, low self-esteem, and severe depression not a normal response?

For young men, it was only for the 10% of young men who reported rape that there was a correlation with mental ill-health, with 24% being in the severe range of anxiety.

For women who were raped, the corresponding number experiencing severe anxiety was 40%.

For the 75% of women who had not been raped, 30% experience a severe range of anxiety nonetheless (11% for men) — representing the white noise of anxiety that is part of the ordinary and normal, life-limiting experience of being female in this world.

For boys and young men, we might conclude that for the majority, men’s violence against women does not disturb their world view or their capacity to ‘realise their own potential’ and make meaningful “contributions to their community”.

For girls and women, we bear it and we become mentally unwell under its burden.

And if we do not sex-disaggregate the data and discussion, we will not see this and we will be passive when it comes to making a change.

Clíona Saidléar PhD, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) executive director.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/cliona-saidlear-we-must-recognise-how-pornography-affects-young-women-966274.html

Rate my rape list: ‘I’m angry at the silence of the men of Ireland’

In the wake of the ‘rate my rape’ list on a school wall, Dr Cliona Saidlear says we have to talk about rape culture in Ireland.

I’M ANGRY. I’VE been a professional working on sexual violence almost continuously since I graduated with a PhD on war. I have learned not to get angry.

Instead, I have learned to breathe. One breath, another, until my reactions to yet another instance of misogyny, abuse and violence are fanned into a quiet, infinitesimally slow burning rage. A rage so still that unless you look very closely you won’t even notice.

I pass for reasonable, most of the time – but today I’m angry.

A list of names

We’ve discovered that a boy, maybe more than one, wrote a list of girls’ names on the wall of a toilet cubicle in the boys’ bathrooms in their school and asked other boys which girl they were going to rape. That boy or other boys (how many?), laid a neat row of ticks beside the chosen girls’ names.

One boy, as the list of ticks grew, it is said informed the girl at the top of the list that she should be pleased she had the most ‘likes’. As teenage popularity contests go this seems like a dystopia that is hard to beat.

Why? Some will ask what we should do to fix it? Some will shrug because this is just the way it is. Boys will be boys.

Silliness?

The day before an elder statesman of rugby had gone on publicly funded radio to tell us that what the lads, the ones in the Belfast trial, said on Whatsapp and what they got up to that now infamous night was just ‘silliness’.

For many of us listening it was a startling insight into a world of entitlement we had almost forgotten existed.

The school has responded immediately and they appear to have done a good job. They have engaged the whole of the school, including the parents, mobilised in supporting all the children involved and addressing the unacceptability of this attitude and behaviour.

But this was after the fact and they had no blueprint for dealing with this normalising of misogynist violence.

I’m angry, but not with those boys. I’m angry at all the messages boys receive all their lives, through our culture and the words, omissions, silence or examples set for them, the stories they hear, the men they watch on television, the pornography they consume that tells them that how to be men is by hurting women.

Silence of good men

I’m also angry at the relative silence (with a few exceptions) of the famous, great and good men of Ireland. It’s hard to understand this silence. Why isn’t this their business?

We can change this. We must. We can choose to look critically at how we are as men and women and other, at what we expect of ourselves and each other. We can transform to create a kinder, more respectful society for all, but only if we engage honestly and compassionately and not retreat into our rage and defensive indignation.

It’s time to acknowledge rape culture so that we can deal with it proactively. Rape is everyone’s business. Our silence won’t change this culture. But our engagement and our actions will.

We owe it to our boys and our girls.

Dr Cliona Saidlear is Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/rate-my-rape-list-im-angry-at-the-silence-of-the-men-of-ireland-3959797-Apr2018/