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.