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Increase in number of contacts made to Rape Crisis Centres

A SIGNIFICANT 23% increase in contacts made to Rape Crisis Centre helplines during the three months of lockdown has been described as “not surprising” by Rape Crisis Midwest.
As Rape Crisis Midwest’s Ennis centre became one of the first to re-open in the Midwest after lock-down, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) has released statistics showing how Covid-19 has impacted survivors of sexual violence and Rape Crisis Centres.
The RCNI data was drawn from six centres, including Rape Crisis Midwest, during the Covid stay-at-home period from March-June 2020.
According to Verena Tarpey of Rape Crisis Midwest, “The report published last week reflects what Rape Crisis Midwest experienced on the ground over the last number of months. Our centre had to close in March, but we remained very much open to our clients. Staff were flexible in their working hours adjusting to the needs of clients – many taking place at night and over weekends where survivors were able to find a safe place to talk.”
The report highlights from March to June, there was a 98% increase in the number of contacts to the helpline made by survivors seeking counselling and support. This correlates with an increase of 83% in the length of time spent on calls made to Rape Crisis Centre helplines.
During the Covid stay-at-home period there was an increase in survivors of all age groups contacting Rape Crisis Centres for support, especially those aged between 40-49.
The data also shows that 781 children and young people, aged between 12 and 23, engaged with the six Rape Crisis Centres.
Ms Tarpey described the 23% overall increase in helpline calls as a “notable aspect” of the report, with the largest increase of 63% seen in March
“The very big spike to calls during March could be attributed to increased contact between Rape Crisis Midwest and clients for the purpose of rearranging appointments. However, the overall increase in helpline calls is not surprising given the fact that the pandemic resulted in many having to stay at home, for many this is where the abuse took place. The data also points to a marked increase in the length of time spent on  helpline calls during the pandemic – prior to lockdown, a helpline call would generally take in the region of 3 to 5 minutes where details were taken and an appointment made. Due to the fact that we couldn’t offer appointments this service,  it resulted in staff staying on helpline calls with survivors for much longer periods of time.”
She continued, “Although there was an increase in all age categories contacting our centre, there was a significant increase in survivors in the 40-49 age category contacting our service when compared to the same time last year.  This was not surprising given that many men/women in this age category  were likely to be working from home with school going children and with parents of an age that had to cocoon for a number of months. This may have led to extra stresses  and could have triggered past abuse.” She concluded by stating that Rape Crisis Midwest are “pleased to have been able to re-open to clients with Ennis being one of the first of our centres to open in the Midwest.”

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