The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's (DRCC) national 24-hour helpline received almost 13,000 calls in 2017, as part of an 'exceptionally busy year'.
According to the DRCC's 2017 Annual Report, a total of 12,855 contacts were made to the helpline, an increase of 500 on the previous year.
Meanwhile, DRCC staff accompanied 251 people to examinations at the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, where forensic evidence was collected and victims were given medical care.
DRCC staff also provided support to victims who were making a criminal complaint at a Garda station or in court on 53 days.
"This report not only shows that we were exceptionally busy in 2017, but that we continued to have a dual focus to ensure that those who suffer sexual violence get the support that they need and deserve, and also to ensure that we are working towards a safer society where sexual violence is no longer acceptable or tolerated," commented DRCC chairperson, Ann Marie Gill.
Speaking about the treatment of victims within the criminal justice system, DRCC chief executive, Noeline Blackwell, complimented the good work done by Gardai who are fully trained in the investigation of sexual offences. However, she noted that there continues to be a lack of specialised units and investigators to deal with many of these ‘sensitive investigations'.
She pointed out that when such cases are poorly handled, this can lead to victims withdrawing from the justice system and feeling re-victimised by the experience.
"When you combine this with the systemic difficulties of our court system in such trials, it is little wonder that there is such a high rate of drop-out between reporting and trial, and even a very low rate of reporting," she said.
She pointed out that the DRCC has taken on a person this year to focus on developing the centre's accompaniment and support justice services.
Meanwhile, the report also showed that the centre delivered 3,883 appointments in Dublin last year.
"We are continuing to see an increase in the number of callers and clients who have experienced recent rape and sexual assault. Nearly 48% of helpline contacts related to adult rape, compared to 41% of 2016 contacts. Of new clients seen in 2017, 49% had experienced recent rape or sexual assault," explained the centre's head of clinical services, Angela McCarthy.
The DRCC added that additional funding from Tusla allowed it to provide therapy for 550 face-to-face clients in 2017- an increase of 10% compared to 2016.
The DRCC's national 24-hour helpline number is 1800 77 88 88, or click here for more information.