The Rape Crisis Movement’s founding principles include ending all forms of sexual violence. RCNI dedicate and focus rape crisis sector resources to work towards a society free from abuse and are leaders in the development of prevention initiatives.
RCNI developed a Guidance On Prevention for our membership which was subsequently adapted and became The Guiding Principles on Prevention of the Irish National Strategy on Preventing Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. RCNI has since used these principals to produce a Prevention Model to assist all those working to effect prevention.
RCNI shares expertise on prevention with other agencies and bodies including policy makers, government departments, NGOs, statutory agencies, professionals and youth organisations. We do so through one to one engagement, such as consultation on the school curriculum, as well as through formal structures such as the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women’s communications subcommittee and through participation in conferences, most recently presenting at the UN at the invitation of the Irish government.
Partnership to deliver Prevention:
Working with the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) first made the inclusion of consent mainstream across it sexual health activities in 2013. That same year USI with the support of Cosc developed and undertook the first quantitative research of sexual violence experiences on campus (the ‘Say it’ report ) while RCNI commissioned the School of Psychology NUIG to undertake qualitative research of 3rd level students resulting in a report entitled, ‘Young People, Alcohol and Sex: What’s consent got to do with it?’.
Dr Padraig MacNeela at NUIG extended this work to include large surveys on student experiences of unwanted sexual contact and consent. Based on the research findings he and his team developed the Smart Consent initiative in 2015 – consisting of theory- and evidence-driven workshops and other engagement strategies. Working in collaboration with USI, Student Unions, Student Services, RCNI and a number of the third level institutions, notably UCC, this group have recently received a Research for Policy and Society grant from the Irish Research Council and the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme to study the implementation of the Smart Consent workshop approach.
Meanwhile an RCNI collaboration of Rape Crisis Centres reviewed long standing education practice. One of those leading centres, Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse centre went on to work with the HSE and the local 3rd level Tralee IT and the Students Union to set up an interagency partnership. Under that initiative the KRSAC delivered training to three of the IT’s schools, nursing, social studies and health promotion, who in turn trained up students who then delivered peer led workshops to all incoming students in those schools last year.
Influenced by these activities a range of doctoral and post-doctoral research projects on sexual activity, culture and consent are now underway across a number of universities. The various consent workshops continue to be rolled out and the critical conversations across campuses and about how we run and support programmes, how we evaluate them and how the target audience accesses them, continue.
In the research young people themselves identified how unprepared they felt for the complexity of negotiating sexual activity and they strongly recommended consent workshops be delivered at school age. Much work is being undertaken to address this critical gap. RCNI have a 5 year collaboration with Foróige to provide an integrated consent and sex and the law training to young people 12- 24 and has recently developed consent modules for inclusion in the B4uDecide.ie Relationship and Sexual Education resource materials. The Be4uDecide.ie resource materials are being revised by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme as an action under the National Sexual Health Strategy 2015-2020. The 2nd National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based violence aims to develop relevant education programmes within Youth Reach with the Department of Education and Skills.
Developing an Evidence Based Approach:
RCNI commission research and give a platform to best international practice through learning fora such as conferences, workshops and seminars. Major events have included the founding of Rape Crisis Network Europe through leading on a Daphne funded project, hosting the 3rd International Conference on Survivors of Rape, and the Agenda for Justice Conference to launch the RCNI commissioned Rape and Justice in Ireland research. A new research on alcohol and consent was launched in January 2014, “Young People, Alcohol and Sex: What’s Consent Got To Do With It?”; furthermore, in July 2016, it was launched the first report with quantitative data “Finding a Safe Place: LGBT Survivors of Sexual Violence and Disclosure in Rape Crisis Centres”. Click here to find out more about our Research and Reports.