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Publication

How to Get Help for Yourself

Published: 8 May 2019
From: Department of Justice and Equality

Introduction

If you are here because you are a victim of sexual violence, it is important that you know that there is help available to you and you don’t need to deal with this on your own.

It’s okay if you don’t know how to react. You may be physically hurt, emotionally drained, or unsure of what to do next. You may be considering reporting what has happened to you, but are unsure of where to start.

Learning more about what steps you can take following sexual violence can help ground you in a difficult time.

It’s important to know that recovering from a sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone. It may take weeks, months, or years — there’s no timetable for healing.

There are many Rape Crisis Centres around Ireland that can help you. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre runs a national 24-Hour Helpline which can be contacted on 1800 77 8888. Telephone counsellors are available to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and offer a free, confidential listening and support service for women and men who have been raped, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or sexually abused at any time in their lives.

A website is also available at RapeCrisisHelp.ie where you will find information about the professional support and the choices available to survivors of sexual violence.

Help available in the aftermath of recent sexual violence

If you have been the victim of a rape or sexual assault in the last 7 days, you may attend a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) with or without Garda accompaniment.

Rape and sexual assault victims are treated in Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs) where specially trained nurses and doctors attend to victims. More details on SATUs, their various locations and contact details can be obtained from the HSE website.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you need to consider attending a SATU as soon as possible. You should consider doing this regardless of whether or not you wish to report the assault to An Garda Síochána. The idea of a physical examination may be distressing but seeking medical help is important. Injuries can be treated, you can be tested and treated for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you can be offered emergency contraception, and be advised of the availability of counselling.

When you are seeking medical help you can ring your nearest Rape Crisis Centre who can organise someone to attend a SATU with you to provide emotional support.

There are three options in a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit:

  • receive medical care and attention only
  • receive medical care and attention and have forensic evidence gathered in the process and preserved, in case you wish to report to An Garda Síochána up to a year later
  • receive medical care and attention, report to An Garda Síochána, and have forensic evidence taken

The following information may be difficult to process if you have been recently assaulted but it is important information to know in case you do wish to report what has happened to you.

Washing yourself or the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault could possibly destroy valuable forensic evidence.

If you can avoid drinking anything after an assault that involved oral penetration, a swab can be taken. Forensic evidence can strengthen the possibility of successfully prosecuting the offender. It is understandable if a victim cannot follow this advice.

All incidents of sexual violence should be reported to An Garda Síochána. However, it is up to any adult who has or is being assaulted to decide if they want to report the incident(s) of sexual violence or assault to An Garda Síochána.

Without committing yourself to anything, you can ring your nearest Rape Crisis Centre and it will offer non-judgemental support, a listening ear and information. Rape Crisis Centres have trained volunteers to accompany you to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, the Garda Station and or to court, if you wish. The centre is a useful port of call at any stage, whatever you decide to do. Their services are for women and men.

You can call your local Rape Crisis Centre or the Rape Crisis Helpline (1800 77 88 88) for advice.

If you have experienced sexual violence in the past

It is important to realise that the trauma of an attack will have both short-term and long-term effects on your life. Expert support in examining and dealing with these effects is your right.

Contact with others who acknowledge and understand your experience and how it has affected you will break the isolation you may feel.

What you can expect from counselling

Counselling gives you time and space to explore your feelings. The aim in counselling is to help you to reach your full potential, so that your experience of sexual violence no longer controls or overwhelms your life, behaviour and choices.

The counsellor is a professional, so you do not need to protect her or him from the intensity of your feelings or the details of your trauma, as you might feel you need to do with family members or friends you confide in.

You can see a counsellor in a Rape Crisis Centre even if you do not report to the police or go for a medical examination. It does not matter how long ago the assault happened.

How long will counselling last?

The pace of healing is very individual. It is affected by such things as the duration and intensity of the sexual violence, your relationship to the person who assaulted you, previous traumatic experiences and the degree of support you have outside of the counselling setting.

You may be with a Rape Crisis Centre for 6 sessions or 60. People often begin with weekly sessions and then spread out the time between sessions as they become better able to manage on their own.

Will you see the same counsellor all the time?

Yes. The first time you go to a Rape Crisis Centre, a counsellor will explain how they work. After that introductory session, the counsellor assigned to you will contact you and normally work with you for as long as you need.

Will counselling help you to forget?

What counselling hopes to achieve is that the event becomes something which no longer takes over or controls your day-to-day life. Forgetting sexual violence is not a realistic or even desirable goal of counselling.

You may find that, in the course of counselling, you begin to develop positive aspects of yourself that have lain hidden or under-developed. Counselling will help you to understand that what you are experiencing is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. This does not in any way minimise the range and intensity of your feelings but reaffirms your normality in the context of what has happened to you.

The information in this section has been adapted, with thanks, from material by The Rape Crisis Network Ireland .

If you are currently experiencing sexual violence

When a person is forced to participate in any sexual act without their consent, it is wrong. It is an invasion of physical and personal integrity. When we hear the words ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ many of us think of a woman being attacked in a dark alley late at night. We know from research and from information from support services that it is more likely that sexual violence is carried out by someone known to the victim.

We also know a large proportion of such attacks, almost one-quarter* of perpetrators of sexual violence against women as adults, are by intimate partners or ex-partners.

In 2017, there were 607 disclosures of sexual abuse by intimate partners made to Women’s Aid. This included 323 reports of rape by a current or former intimate partner.

Women’s Aid have also revealed that women using the Women’s Aid services disclosed that their partners have:

  • raped them
  • beaten them during sex
  • drugged them and raped them
  • raped them and said that sex is ‘his right’
  • made women feel that it is easier to ‘give in’ as saying no will mean a violent attack
  • forced women to carry out humiliating and painful sexual acts
  • coerced them into sex
  • raped and sexually abused them in front of their children
  • taken sexually explicit images and videos and shared online and via text without their consent

If this has happened to you, help is available. You don’t need to suffer on your own. Information on how to report to the Gardaí and medical help in the aftermath of a recent sexual assault can be found elsewhere on this site.

However, specific help in relation to sexual violence in a domestic abuse situation can be found by ringing the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline that offers confidential information, support and understanding to women in the Republic of Ireland, who are being abused by current or former boyfriends, partners or husbands.

The helpline can be reached by calling 1800 341 900, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Women’s Aid can refer you to a local, face to face support service or refuge.

Detailed information on national and local support services available to someone suffering domestic violence can be found here.

Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (McGee et al, 2002)

Reporting to the Gardaí

Making a report

If you are a victim of or witness to a sexual crime or child abuse we would urge you to report this to An Garda Síochána.

You can do this by the following methods:

  • Call 112/999 For An Garda Síochána in the case of an emergency. Examples of emergencies are a danger to life; risk of serious injury; crime in progress or about to happen; offender still at scene or has just left.
  • Child Sexual Abuse Freephone Complaints of child abuse can be made over the phone and in a confidential manner to An Garda Síochána 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to 1800 555 222.
  • Call your local Garda Station or report in person You can also contact your local Garda station in person or by telephone. Details of all Garda stations are available here. You may call to the Garda station accompanied by a friend or a support worker from one of the many victim support groups. Details of those groups, providing both national and local services, are listed here.

What will happen when the Gardaí arrive?

An Garda Síochána recognise the emotional and physical pain that victims of sexual crime and child abuse may be suffering. This suffering can often be to such an extent that victims feel that they cannot report the crime to An Garda Síochána. The Gardaí acknowledge this difficulty for victims, but encourage all victims of sexual crime and child abuse to make a complaint to An Garda Síochána to ensure that, where possible, the perpetrator is made accountable.

You can be assured that:

  • it is the duty of An Garda Síochána to investigate fully all reports of sexual crime and child abuse, without exception. Your report will be treated seriously
  • gardaí are trained to investigate your report in a compassionate, sensitive and professional manner. Every effort will be made to have a Garda of the gender of your choice allocated to the investigation
  • complaints of sexual crime and child abuse are recorded on the Garda Síochana PULSE computer system but access is restricted to personnel involved in the investigation and supervisors
  • you will be given the contact details of the investigating Garda and kept updated on the progress of the Garda investigation on a regular basis. You will be provided with the PULSE Incident Number relating to your complaint
  • you will be provided with details of available support services relevant to the crime that you report
  • you may be accompanied by a solicitor and or another person of your choice when engaging with An Garda Síochána. You may also be provided with other special protective measures such as specially trained interviewers and or an interpreter, depending on your circumstances
  • An Garda Síochána will communicate and work with Tusla The Child and Family Agency where any child protection concerns arise
  • when the investigation is complete, an investigation file must be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • the rights of all parties involved in the investigation will be vindicated

More information can be found here.

Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs)

The Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) is a safe place that you can go to receive medical care when you have or think you may have been raped or sexually assaulted. They look after all genders and gender identities, aged 14 years and over.

Each member of staff in the unit has received specialised training to provide care and treatment to you in a respectful, person-centred, non-judgmental environment.

There are currently six SATUs in Ireland. They are in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Mullingar and Waterford. The contact details for each unit are detailed below.

Cork Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

Service available 24 hours a day 365 days a year

Located in South Infirmary/Victoria University Hospital, Cork.

Sexual Violence Centre Cork psychological support workers are available to all attending patients.

Monday – Friday, 0830-1630 contact 021 4926297/021 4926100 Bleep 789

Out of hours or weekends contact Nursing Admin 021 4926100

Donegal Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

Treatment and care available 24 hours, 365 days a year.

To speak with a Forensic Clinical Examiner to arrange a private appointment please contact;

24 hr On-call SATU mobile: - (087) 0681964 or Office phone during week days: - 074 9104436

The Donegal Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre endeavour to provide psychological support to all attending patients.

Dublin Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

Service available 24 hours a day 365 days a year

Located in Rotunda Hospital, Dublin 1.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre psychological support workers are available to all patients.

CARI offers psychological support for patients aged 14-15 attending the unit. CARI also provide an aftercare phone support service for any adult/s involved in supporting a child through a forensic process.

For advice or to book an appointment ring the unit on 01 8171736 Mon- Fri 08.00 and 16.00

Out of hours contact Rotunda Hospital 018171700 and ask for SATU.

Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

Service available 24 hours a day 365 days a year

Located in a dedicated building near Galway racecourse.

Galway Rape Crisis Centre psychological support workers are available to all attending patients.

For advice or to book an appointment contact your local Garda Station or ring the unit 091765751 or 0876338118 Mon -Fri 0800- 16.00.

Out of hours contact your local Garda station.

Mullingar Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

Service available 24 hours a day 365 days a year

Located in Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar.

Tullamore Rape Crisis Centre psychological support workers are available to all attending patients.

For advice or to book an appointment contact the Gardaí or ring the unit 044 9394239 or 086 0409952 Mon -Fri 0800- 1730.

Out of hours or weekends contact your local Garda Station or call nursing administration via hospital switchboard on 044 93 40221

Sexual Assault Services Midwest

Available 365 days a year Monday - Friday 6pm – 8am Saturdays, Sundays & Bank Holidays 24 hours

Located in Mid Western Regional Hospital Limerick Outpatients Department RCC in attendance

Contact SHANNONDOC Tel: 1850 212 999

During office hours contact Galway or Cork SATU

Waterford Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

Service available 24 hours a day 365 days a year

Located in Waterford Regional Hospital.

Waterford Rape and Sexual Abuse centre psychological support workers are available to all attending patients. For advice or to book an appointment contact the SATU directly on 051 842157 or

Out of hours contact the nurse on call via the hospital switchboard on 051 848000

Rape Crisis Centres

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre run a national 24-Hour Helpline which can be contacted on 1800 77 8888. Their telephone counsellors are available to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and offer a free, confidential listening and support service for women and men who have been raped, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or sexually abused at any time in their lives.

A website is also available at RapeCrisisHelp.ie where you will find information about the professional support and the choices available to survivors of sexual violence.

Rape Crisis Centres provide a safe environment where survivors of sexual violence come first. All staff and volunteers deeply understand both the realities of sexual violence and the impact of all forms of sexual violence. Survivors’ reactions are viewed as normal responses to trauma and to coping with the aftermath of trauma.

All staff and volunteers are trained in the reality and extent of sexual violence. In supporting survivors through helplines, advocacy, counselling, medical or legal processes, Rape Crisis Centres understand the need to maintain confidentiality.

The following links are to individual Rape Crisis Centres around Ireland:

Athlone/Midlands Rape Crisis Centre

Carlow & South Leinster Rape Crisis Centre

Donegal Rape Crisis Centre

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Galway Rape Crisis Centre

Kerry Rape Crisis Centre

Kilkenny Rape Crisis Centre

Limerick Rape Crisis Centre

Mayo Rape Crisis Centre

Rape Crisis North East

Sexual Violence Centre Cork

Sligo Rape Crisis Centre

Tipperary Rape Crisis Centre

Tullamore Rape Crisis Centre

Waterford Rape Crisis Centre

Wexford Rape Crisis Centre

Support Services to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

One in Four provides professional support to men and women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. Their contact details are as follows:

  • by telephone on 01 6624070 Monday – Friday 9.30 to 5.30pm
  • by email: info@oneinfour.ie
  • by letter at 2 Holles St, Dublin 2, D02 FP40

CARI (Children at Risk Ireland) provides therapy and counselling services to children, non-offending family members and groups who have been affected by child sexual abuse. Their contact details are as follows:

  • by telephone on Lo Call 1890 924 567 (Republic of Ireland) or +353 1 830 8523 (UK and Northern Ireland). Lines are open from Monday to Friday 9:30am - 5:30pm
  • by email: helpline@cari.ie

Domestic Violence Support Services

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