THE Sexual Violence Centre Cork offered more appointments to minors last year than in previous years, while 37% of all new clients reported that they were students.
The details are revealed in the organisation’s 2019 annual report.
The report shows the centre received 3,469 calls and texts to its helpline last year and provided 1,714 counselling appointments, an increase on the previous year.
Overall, the centre provided counselling services to 580 clients and family/friends affected by sexual violence in 2019. Of these, 358 people had presented for the first time.
Over 60% of new clients last year were less than 29 years of age, and three-quarters of all new clients last year were 23 or younger at the time of the sexual assault. One-third of new clients had suffered child sexual abuse.
The vast majority of the centre’s clients identified as female, while less than 10% were male.
Of those who contacted the centre, only one-third of new clients reported the sexual violence to An Garda Siochana.
The report shows the centre also supported 197 people through the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit process while it accompanied 20 people to courts.
Mary Crilly, CEO of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork said that the figures in the report are likely to only represent “the tip of the iceberg” of people affected by sexual violence.
She pointed out that a significant number of clients were students: “People will automatically think that’s house parties, the girls are drunk, they are not taking care, all this kind of thing, when in fact, that’s not the reality.”
“People are raped who don’t take alcohol. People are raped in their own home. People are raped by friends. I think what we forget is the guys who are raping the girls are grooming everybody around them, and so everyone around them wouldn’t believe that they are capable of it.”
The Sexual Violence Centre Cork CEO said it is vital that this behaviour is not tolerated.
“What I’m really asking is for the good guys, because there are so many of them out there, to call it out. Say this isn’t appropriate, this isn’t on,” she said.
Ms Crilly said some people may even brag about their behaviour.
“They won’t call it rape, they’ll say they ‘had her’ or they did something to her and she wasn’t even aware of it, they won’t use the word rape, they will brag about it. And the guys around them know they are doing it. Girls have come in and said his friends warned me about him or somebody mentioned something, but they never really grab the guy by the collar and say this has to stop,” she said.
Ms Crilly stressed that there is also a need for people to stop blaming women by asking “why did you go into his flat, why did you go home with him, why did you do this, why did you do that.”