Rising number of students reporting sexual assaults to rape crisis centres

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Sexual Violence Centre Cork both reported an increase in students accessing their services

Rape crisis centres have stated that they are experiencing an increasing number of students and young people contacting them, having been the victim of a sexual assault. 

Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said that the increase is in line with a general increase in the number of contacts that they are getting and could be caused by a wide variety of reasons. 

However, they also indicated that they expect that consent classes and other initiatives that have raised awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault are one factor that may have caused this increase, as students are now more likely to come forward about an experience of sexual assault that in that past might have gone unreported. 

The spokesperson stated that while consent classes not having led to a reduction in the number of reports, “nonetheless, we highly endorse the various initiatives on raising awareness on consent – some people will have better understanding and better communication skills for their sexual activities and relationships and that’s a very positive development”.

Mary Crilly, Director of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork (SVCC) told Trinity News that her centre has also seen an increase in reported cases from students, which she also put down to a raised awareness of the issue, rather than an increase in the number of assaults taking place. Crilly added that this raised awareness had come from a mixture of campaigns and high-profile court cases.  

She explained her that using consent classes to educate people on what consent it is “ludicrous” by the time students have reached third level education and where thus unlikely to lead to a reduction in the number of assaults, but she said that they could serve a purpose of making it clear to women “that they don’t have to have sex with a guy just because they like him”. 

She added that the campaigns that her organisation has run in Cork’s third level institutions in the past couple of years have made students more aware of the centre and could also account for the increase in the number of students accessing the centre’s services. 

Crilly described how perpetrators of sexual violence see college campuses as “hunting grounds”.

Crilly explained that she believes the main issue that is not being addressed with regards to sexual assaults on students was the issue of victim blaming.  She noted that it is much more likely in cases involving young women rather than cases involving older women or men, for people to speculate “oh it was probably her fault”. She said she felt this was an issue “that we are not chipping away at at all”.  

See also: Jack Ryan analyses the developing state of consent education in Irish universities.

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current News Editor for Trinity News. He is a Senior Fresh English Literature student, and a former Assistant News Editor.