RCNI statement on online abuse, support and responses 

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release 

19th Nov 2020  

RCNI statement on online abuse, support and responses 

RCNI would like to send out a message to anyone who believes they may be affected by the non-consensual sharing of private and intimate images that there is support available and that they are not to blame.   

We would like to condemn in the strongest possible way those who have shared or facilitated or downloaded images of this nature without the consent of the person. This is never ok; it is never harmless and very shortly it will be a criminal offence in Ireland to share intimate images of adults online without consent. There is already a range of criminal offences available in relation to intimate images of children being shared online 

Anyone affected by such behaviour can access support from a Rape Crisis Centre or domestic violence serviceDomestic and sexual violence services increasingly respond to this issue and trained support workers and counsellors are available to you through your local services (please find them on rapecrisishelp.ie or safeireland.ie) or through the national helplines (180341900 & 1800 778888). If you are under 18 please contact Childline on 1800 666 666 for support and guidance. If you are a parent or other adult concerned about intimate images of children being circulated online, please refer to www.hotline.ie to view their reporting procedure. Alternatively, you can report your concerns to An Garda Síochána directly. 

If you have access to someone else’s image that has been shared online and you are concerned it has been shared without their consent, it is vital that you refer the matter to the Gardaí and refrain from any further sharing or action around the image.  

RCNI continues to work on improving legislation pertaining to online abuse of any kind and we welcome the priority being given by this Government to the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, which will reach its Dáil Select Committee stage on 1st December 2020 and is projected to be signed into law by the end of this year. This Bill contains new offences criminalising the distribution of intimate images of adults online without consent.  

Iaddition, the General Scheme on Online Safety and Media Regulation needs to be moved up the Government’s priority list to ensure the mechanisms exist for swift take down upon request and to establish Media Commissioner. 

We continue to work very actively with our partners here and globally to address this issue and to ensure harm is prevented and swift and appropriate action follows where harm and offending is detected 

Ends 

For information please contact Natalie Robinson: 0833682229

RCNI release first statistics showing how Covid-19 impacted survivors of sexual violence and Rape Crisis Centres during lockdown.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press release 20th July 2020 

RCNI today said this new data shows Rape Crisis Centres rapidly adapting to changing survivors’ needs and capacity to reach outIt also suggests both increased need due to the additional trauma of the pandemic and unmet need due to those who have put their contact with rape crisis on hold until they feel safe enough and have the time and privacy to give focus to their trauma. Now more than ever specialist sexual violence services will need to have secure funding going into 2021.

RCNI data, drawing on a snapshot from six Rape Crisis Centres during the Covid stay-at-home period, March-June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, shows significant increases and changes in survivor engagement

We have seen a significant increase in contacts made to Rape Crisis Centre Helplines, overall a 23% increase during the three months of lockdown measures, with the largest increase being in March (63%). 

Almost everyone already in counselling in the Centres were able to switch to remote counselling in mid-March, but some were not. Alongside the counselling that continued, RCCs offered an additional 30% appointments with survivors. These took place by phone or video call. Survivors contacting through the helpline changed what they wanted from that contact also

In terms of what the helpline was used for through the period March – June, there was a 98% increase in the number of contacts made by survivors seeking counselling and support. This correlates with a striking increase of 83% in the length of time spent on calls made to RCC helplines. Elaine Mears, RCNI’s Data and Privacy Coordinator said: “Where previously helpline contacts may have been just a few minutes, now they were lasting over 30 minutes, with calls up to an hour and a half increasing five-fold when compared to the same period last year”. 

During the Covid stay-at-home period, we have seen aincrease in survivors of all age groups contacting RCCs for support, especially those aged between 40-49RCNI Executive Director, Dr Clíona Saidléar said: “From our conversations with counsellors and managers in RCCs we believe that this is in a large part due to the lockdown measures triggering past trauma. This age cohort are often holding multiple responsibilities such as care of children and elders as well as un/employment, increasing pressures at this time. 

Alongside this, data shows that 781 children and young people, aged between 12 and 23, engaged with these six RCCs. Dr Saidléar continued, ‘We are so glad that children and young people who needed rape crisis support reached out and found us. We do remain concerned for children during this period and know that there are many who have not been able to ask for support and helpWe need redoubled Government and Tusla commitment to ensure that Rape Crisis Centresalongside other specialist services and partners, the Gardaí, Sexual Assault treatment Units and children’s specialist services will be here when they do.

In this crisis, RCCs have been a key resource, not only for survivors but for professionals and others seeking information and advice. We have seen 69% increase in the number of contacts made to RCCs by individuals seeking information, and 72% increase in the number of professionals accessing the helplinesThis data indicates that RCCs are widely recognised as valuable hubs of local and national expertise for anyone seeking help or support around the issue of sexual violence. 

Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland have shown themselves to be dynamic and responsive services for survivors and others seeking support, advice, and information. As the world continues to move through uncertainty, it is more vital than ever for RCCs to remain resourced and flexible to meet survivor needs.

Ends

For information: please contact Natalie Robinson: 0833682229.

Notes:

  • This data comes from the RCNI Data Collection System and is drawn from 6 centres and is drawn from 4,734 counselling appointments and 4,413 helpline contacts.

  • The RCNI received funding from the Department of Justice and Equality in 2020 which made this analysis possible.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) welcomes draft Programme for Government

15th June 2020

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) welcomes today’s draft Programme for Government

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) welcomes today’s draft Programme for Government. It is encouraging to see commitment to much-needed, transformative measures, and lessons taken from Ireland’s response to Covid-19.

In particular, RCNI is pleased to see that the urgent need for an immediate audit on governmental responsibility for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence has been recognised. This encouraging commitment is a priority issue for RCNI and we look forward to working in collaboration to bring our expertise and best thinking to the government in this endeavour.

Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director of RCNI said: “RCNI look forward to working with the government in auditing how sexual, domestic, and gender-based violence is held across government. Over the Covid-19 crisis we have found ways to work very effectively across government but the gaps and silos also became apparent to all. We look forward to the development of a fit for purpose infrastructure in the lifetime of this government under this programme.

But, RCNI caution. ‘this significant and vital promise of this Programme of Government needs to be held by a government Minister with a voice at the cabinet table. This is potentially a deeply progressive action which will create a lasting legacy preventing sexual and domestic violence. Together we can work towards an Ireland where everyone is free from sexual violence and the fear and threat of sexual violence.’

RCNI also welcomes the priorities on Family Law, supporting and protecting victims, online safety, sex education in schools and the embedding of the Consent Framework in Higher Education Institutes.

We are interested to see a night time economy taskforce and focus on alcohol harm as we are seeing an opportunity to build a new safer nighttime economy for all.

RCNI are also energised by the proposals under public sector reform and social dialogue. These measures demonstrate a government that is seeking to transform and strengthen our communities, public engagement, cross government innovation and responsiveness and our democracy. This is a programme with ambition to pro-actively shape our post-Covid society in kinder and more inclusive ways.

End

For comment please contact Natalie Robinson: 0833682229.

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As the country starts to reopen, Survivor support remains our priority

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release 9th June 2020 

As the country starts to reopen, Survivor support remains our priority

In recent weeks it has become clear to Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) that for many survivors, trauma is resurfacing and that they may also feel reluctant to prioritise themselves while so much else is going on. RCNI wish to send out the clear message to survivors that their wellbeing and mental health is our priority; Rape Crisis Centres around the country are providing a safe online space to support survivors.

Clíona Saidléar, RCNI’s Executive Director said:

“Over the past few months we were hearing from survivors about the additional strain for them of stay-at-home and ‘Hold Firm’. Now that we are opening up again we want to reiterate that supporting survivors early and when they need it is our priority. While we are all in this together, many are experiencing social distancing not just as part of the community pulling together but as survivors of sexual violence. Many survivors were already isolated by secrecy before we isolated socially.

We know that survivors are resourceful and often find innovative coping strategies but we also know that Hold Firm conditions may have challenged those strategies. Nationwide Rape Crisis Centres remain available to anybody who needs them. This includes access to experienced and specialist rape crisis counsellors via telephone and online.’

While, like most charities, the pandemic has strained our resources RCCs have adapted to ensure we continue to be available. RCNI welcome that these services have been prioritised by government and Tusla to help ensure we have the capacity to meet the needs of survivors at this time. We continue to be grateful for the generosity of the public in supporting their local centres so that they can continue to support survivors. This support remains essential.

Rape Crisis Centres’ Services are here to help. Contact your local Rape Crisis Centre by phone or email. Find your local centre here www.rapecrisishelp.ie or you can call the 24 Hour Helpline on 1800 778888.

  

End 

For comment contact: 

Natalie Robinson on 0833682229

Sexual Violence Survivors in Direct Provision are facing serious barriers to support.

RCNI PR 5th June 2020

Sexual Violence Survivors in Direct Provision are facing serious barriers to support.

RCNI today asked the Minister of Justice & Equality, Charles Flanagan, to ensure survivors of sexual violence living in Direct Provision accommodation can access lifesaving support from their local Rape Crisis Centre.

Currently all access to rape crisis support is done remotely. Where there is internet and phone poverty survivors often cannot speak privately with Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs) and their Counsellors. This is a particularly acute problem for asylum seekers and refugees living in direct provision, compounding already barely tolerable conditions.

Clíona Saidléar, Rape Crisis Network Ireland Executive Director said:

“We are highly concerned for the wellbeing of these survivors. In the Covid context, online and phone access are more important than ever. These vulnerable survivors often do not have their own phone but need to borrow one for phone calls. They may only have access to phones that work on public WiFi, so struggle to make private calls. Our clients’ privacy is at risk every time we make a call.’

These are all barriers from engaging fully or at all in much needed specialist support. Some of the solutions are simple, such as a Rape Crisis Centre being able to pay for phone credit for the survivor.

‘All over the country Rape Crisis Centres meeting their clients’ needs, enable access to specialist rape crisis support in ad hoc manners, whether that is paying for a taxi fare or phone credit or, particularly during Covid, putting together a care package. This expenditure is currently problematic under statutory funding. This is why we are asking the Minister to allow for this discretionary spending by Rape Crisis Centres to ensure access for this vulnerable population currently in the care of the State. It is unacceptable that these survivors’ only formal access to ad hoc support of this nature means they are having to disclose their traumatic history of sexual violence to the Direct Provision staff and the Community Welfare Officers.’

End

For comment contact:

Natalie Robinson on

Notes:

RCNI Report: Asylum seekers and refugees: surviving on hold (2014)

https://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/RCNI-Asylum-Seekers-and-Refugees-Surviving-on-Hold.pdf

RCNI welcome the Central Statistics Office: Recorded Crime Victims 2019 and Suspected Offenders 2018 release today

RCNI Press Release 15th May 2020

 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) publication of Statistics on Victims and Suspected Offenders of Recorded Crimes (including 2018 and 2019 data) by An Garda Síochána gives brand new insight into sexual violence crime in Ireland.  

 

For the first time we have data about the suspected sexual offenders, their sex and age and the age difference between them and the people they are suspected of abusing. This builds on the previous releases and on our knowledge about victims reporting. 

 

The CSO reports that:  

  • 98% of suspected offenders of detected sexual violence crimes were male, (2018 CSO) 
  • 81% of sexual violence victims recorded as female (2019 CSO). 

This is reflected in RCNI Rape Crisis Centre statistics where approximately 85% of those attending services for counselling and support are females and 15% are males 

 

These CSO statistics look at age. What we see is that:  

  • sexual violence predominately affected women under the age of 30 (2019 CSO)
  • almost one in five suspected offenders (19%), were aged under 18 years at the time of the offence. The vast majority of these are accused of abusing other children. (2018 CSO)
  • more than half of victims (55%) reporting historic sexual violence crimes were under 18 at the time the offence occurred (2019 CSO)
  • One third (33%) of victims of recent sexual violence crimes reported were females aged under 18 years at the time of the offence (2019 CSO). 

 

The RCNI recommends the CSO further disaggregates age profiles in the future in order to offer important insight into sexual violence experienced by children and develop a detailed profile of perpetrators of sexual violence and the abuse they perpetrate. 

 

We know from RCNI statistics that there are age-based differences in the characteristics of abuse perpetrated against female and male children.  

 

RCNI found that the child under the age of 13 is most likely to be abused by a male family member in the home, with the abuse lasting years. In contrast with this, female children between ages 13-17 will most likely be abused by friends/acquaintances/neighbours outside the home, with then abuse lasting hours. Boys will be less likely to be abused over the age of 13 as their vulnerability to abuse decreases as they age, whereas female vulnerability does not decrease to the same degree.  

 

RCNI  welcomes the development of information on the relationship between victims and perpetrators. 

 

Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘what we know already about the relationship between victims and perpetrators, is that in approximately 90% of cases, perpetrators are known to the person they abuse. Many of these abusers are within the family, whether parents, siblings or partners of the victim. Making these relationships visible in the crime statistics will be critical in understanding how the Covid context is impacting on who is perpetrating sexual violence and where. 

 

End 

 

For information Contact 

Natalie Robinson on 0833682229 

 

Notes:  

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (2016) National Rape Crisis Statistics and Annual Report 2015, RCNI. Available at: https://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/RCNI-RCC-StatsAR-2015-2.pdf 

 

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (2014) Hearing child survivors of sexual violence, Towards a national response, RCNI. Available at: https://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/Hearing-Child-Survivors-of-Sexual-Violence-2013.pdf  

RCNI Recruitment – Communications & Information Coordinator

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI)

Communications & Information Coordinator

Job Description

RCNI is seeking to employ a Communications & Information Coordinator to manage information flow at all levels from public engagement on sexual violence prevention to connecting remote rape crisis workers with their community of peers nationwide.

RCNI is a small, dynamic and generally cheerful team working to support best practice and the prevention of sexual violence. We create space to reflect, innovate and develop strategies and tools towards those ends. We are owned and governed by member rape crisis centres and serve all survivors. Our engagement is from the frontline through to national government and whole of society.

Responsibilities:

Under the direction of the executive director

  • to ensure the effective flow of information across multiple levels with distinct information needs,
  • to streamline prioritised information,
  • to minimise duplication and overload,
  • to connect the community of remote workers and isolated survivors,
  • to enable good information sharing of RCNI information with all relevant parties from the government and funders through to the public.
  • Work with the team and stakeholders to assist in identifying, and facilitate generating and disseminating evolving data and information needs.
  • Represent RCNI as relevant, including at interagency fora
  • Manage public messaging
  • Maintain public platforms
  • Event (online) management
  • Manage Media and PR
  • Drafting statements and press releases
  • Other matters as directed.

Essential knowledge and skills:

  • Good Systems analysis
  • Excellent written and spoken English
  • Excellent communications skills
  • Excellent team work
  • Self-starter
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Very good working knowledge of office, networking and communications platforms

Desirable

  • Feminist analysis of sexual violence
  • Media and public awareness experience
  • Relevant 3rd level qualification
  • Knowledge of the sector/issue
  • Social media and web maintenance skills.

Reporting to: Executive Director

Hours: Minimum 21hrs and negotiable.

Remuneration: Administrative Officer pay scale (12 pts from 29,742 to 56,415)

 

Terms of Contract: 1 year. Probation period 6 months. After 1 year the contract will be reviewed with a view to renewal in consideration of the ongoing Pandemic circumstances and the evaluated needs of the organisation as well as the securing of ongoing funding.  All posts are subject to funding.

 

Application process

Please note that given circumstances this is a rapid recruitment process. Candidates must be available to start immediately.

Please send your completed application questions (below) and CV to director@rcni.ie by midday Tuesday 7th April 2020 with the subject line ‘recruitment’.

Please answer these questions in less than 300 words each.

  1. Why do you feel you are suitable for this role with particular attention to the skills and competencies required of the role?
  1. How do you think you will contribute to and work with the existing team and our work?
  1. What do you understand by a feminist analysis of sexual violence and why do you think it is presumed to be important for this role?

Name and contact details (preferably phone) of 2 referees.

RCNI have reacted to Tusla Child Abuse Substantiation Practice (CASP)

RCNI have reacted to Tusla Child Abuse Substantiation Practice (CASP)

 

RCNI and Rape Crisis Centres working with survivors of sexual violence are keenly aware of both the positive potential and potential trauma of retrospective reporting and Tusla’s handling of same, for many survivors.

 

A move towards a standardised approach of handling reports is to be welcomed. However, we have reservations regarding this draft practice guide (CASP) as reported in the Irish Times today.

 

Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director, said, ‘in four decades of working with survivors, the most important thing we have learnt, is that the more survivors trust us the more they will share with us their experience and information. This information is valuable in assisting us in protecting others.

 

We have now accumulated evidence that tells us that if we wish to maximise disclosures that help break the silences around sexual violence and protect children and communities, survivors must be treated with dignity and respect throughout any investigative or reporting process.

 

‘When survivors’ rights are honoured, more survivors tell. When survivors’ privacy is respected, more survivors come forward. When survivors’ dignity is prioritised, more survivors stay with the justice process.

 

‘RCNI’s message is simple, the more we earn survivors’ trust us, the better we will be able to effect safety for children, and Tusla’s CASP must reflect this approach.’

 

RCNI go on to call for a Victims’ Champion:

‘It is increasingly clear to advocates like ourselves who work with and advocate for survivors, that the voice of the victim needs to be given formal expression. We need all policy and practice across government to be victim-proofed and implementation of the robust rights victims now have under the law, monitored through a Victims’ Champion. We call on all parties and candidates to prioritise the establishment of a champion for Victims.’

 

For information:

Cliona Saidlear

087 2196447

 

End

RCNI responds as Minister releases report on Child Protection

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

27th January 2020

 

RCNI responds as Minister releases report on Child Protection

 

RCNI strongly welcomes the Expert Assurance Group (EAG) Final Report for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (full title in notes below) on Tusla’s implementation of the HIQA 2018 report recommendations, which was released today, 27th January 2020.

One of the urgent matters identified in the HIQA 2018 report was the handling of child sexual violence allegations. RCNI share the concern that this is an urgent and grave matter, in ensuring effective child protection and the vindication of the rights and dignity of all adult survivors of childhood sexual violence, alongside others impacted by mandatory reporting.

In noting progress on these Minister Zappone informs us that, ‘a new operational policy, National Child Abuse Substantiation Procedures (CASP), has been finalised and training for its implementation is underway.’

Dr Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director responded, ‘RCNI has long been concerned with inconsistencies of practice across the country and the peripheral nature of survivors and their rights in this process. We, therefore, welcome a move towards a standardised approach.

‘RCNI, following considerable engagement with stakeholders on this process and the operational policy, CASP, is of the opinion that this policy must be victim proofed.

 

‘RCNI welcome Tusla’s assurance that consultation on CASP with stakeholders will be carried out in spring 2020. We expect that input and consequent amendments to the policy will be reflected in updates to the policy and the training on it, as Tusla informs us CASP is to be regarded as a living document.

‘We welcome the EAG recommendation that a national lead on the management of retrospective referrals should be appointed. We especially welcome the recommendation that the policy is reviewed after 12 months and regularly after that. However, we would caution that this cannot be an internal review and must involve all stakeholders. Given 90% of mandated reports involve concerns regarding sexual violence, this must engage with sexual violence support organisations and specialists to ensure that CASP gives due consideration to the rights and needs of adult complainants, especially vulnerable ones.

 

We welcome the EAG recommendation that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs continues its exploration of an enhanced role for the National Vetting Bureau in third party communications and RCNI will continue to collaborate with the Department and legislature on this question.’

END

For information or comment

Cliona Saidlear

087 2196447

Notes:

Full title of report: Final Report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs of the Expert Assurance Group established to oversee and advise on the implementation of the recommendations of the Health Information and Quality Authority’s “Report of the investigation into the management of allegations of child sexual abuse against adults of concern by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) upon the direction of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs”.

Extract from Page 47 EAG Report published 27th January 2020:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3eeb15-final-report-of-the-expert-assurance-group-to-the-minister-for-child/

“The EAG welcomes the confirmation that the revised policy, National Child Abuse Substantiation Procedures (CASP), is now complete and an implementation plan begins with the roll out to retrospective referral teams this year. The EAG recommends that due to the complexity of CASP, a national lead is designated to the management of retrospective referrals and that the policy is reviewed after a year of implementation and at regular intervals after that.

Although not specifically discussed in the statutory investigation report, the EAG has offered some commentary on the legal framework for the management of retrospective allegations by Tusla when it comes to communicating a concern about a person to a third party. Overall, the EAG recommends that the Department continues its exploration of an enhanced role for the National Vetting Bureau”.