Silence Is Not Always Golden

Current Affairs editor Dion Davis explains how the establishment of Tusla has let to the cutting of much needed funds for The Rape Crisis Network

One in five girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse. A staggering one in ten women are raped within their lifetime. Four out of five survivors of sexual violence do not report it or seek counselling.  The Rape Crisis Network has been working consistently for forty years to improve the lives of these survivors. However since the Government’s establishment of Tusla: The Child and Family agency last year, all of it’s core funding has been cut. That is 100% of their funding, gone; vanished, the hopes for victims of abuse evaporating with them.

A survivor of sexual violence spoke out on the issue stating that;
“The most recent Irish study, the 15-year-old Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland Report showed that a staggering four in ten women and three in ten men experienced some form of sexual abuse over the course of their lifetime. Yet silence reigns on this topic. We don’t speak about it, but the next time you’re in the company of nine other people, think about it.
So, what’s the State doing to address this? Why, terminating core funding to the body that collects and collates the evidence, of course.”
RCNI Acting Director Dr Cliona Saidléar said:  “Tusla have de-funded the collection of evidence in an area where there is not a lot of evidence and an awful lot of silence.”

The RCNI report on work at its 14 rape crisis centres revealed:

  • 93% of attackers knew their victim and 15% were under 18.
  • Just over half of survivors aged 13 to 17 had been raped.
  • One-third of survivors reported abuse to police and two-thirds of those who came forward thought they were treated sensitively.
  • 1,913 people took up counselling and support, and almost 19,300 calls were made to helplines.

Victims do not report to the Gardaí, many confide in the RCNI because it is an independent body. By holding it’s funding in Tusla and hoping that people will come forward is absurd – if the victims do not feel comfortable contacting a State service such as An Garda Síochána, why would they extend that comfort and contact a State Body? This will only decrease the already low numbers admitting abuse. It is hard enough for people to speak out about their trauma’s, especially in an environment where they do not feel comfortable. In school we are taught that silence is golden, these men and women are forced to believe that  they deserve this abuse. They most certainly do not. Now is the time to speak and the facilities should be in place to accommodate victims of abuse. These people should not feel bad or guilty for the act of crime committed upon them. The perpetrators should. The State should also burden guilt for not investing in a social problem that is only getting worse.

When you are physically injured with a fractured bone or limb; you can visit a hospital. When you are suffering from mental health problems you can visit your local Pieta House (though these are also limited). Now tell me, when you are broken, completely shattered inside; laying alone on your bed feeling responsible for the heinous act of sexual abuse perpetrated on you, where can you go?  This is a call for consent, an imploration for the Government to acknowledge this national issue; this is a plea for funding to be reinstated to the Rape Crisis Network.

If this issue has affected you, or you know somebody who is a victim of sexual abuse; please reach out for help. Visit www.rcni.ie for more information on The Rape Crisis Network and the work they do. Visit your local Rape Crisis Centre before it’s too late. Lastly, if you have some spare change at the end of the week please donate to RCNI and help a worthy cause.