Over 50 Galway students report sexual assault in last six months

Galway Rape Crisis Centre reports high numbers of students coming forward

Content warning: sexual assault, rape.

Over 50 students have reported being sexually assaulted or raped in the past six months, according to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre (GRCC).

In a report published by Student Independent News (SIN), Cathy Connolly, the executive director of the Galway Rape Crisis Centre, said that they have been particularly busy in the past week. Connolly believes that the growing number of young people studying in Galway is a key factor in understanding the high number of reported sexual assaults. “The higher the percentage of people, the more likely these awful things can happen,” stated Connolly.

Connolly explained that while the reports came over the last six month, it “doesn’t mean that these rapes occurred in the last six months necessarily,” as some people wait to report their assault or seek help.

According to Connolly, there are many reasons why a survivor might not report an incident right away, including memory issues, previous incidents, shame or self-blame. “The important thing to remember is that the survivor is never to blame,” says Connolly.

Connolly urged survivors to come forward as soon as they can, and that the sooner someone deals with their trauma, the better their recovery. “It [trauma] can be embedded then, and it is more difficult to process. However, we want to highlight the importance of speaking out about rape and sexual assault, no matter how long ago it happened,” says Connolly when talking about waiting to report an incident.

National University of Ireland, Galway’s (NUI Galway) introduced consent workshops for the first time this year to first-year students in student residences at Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village. Over 40 trained volunteers delivered the workshops.

70% of women have experienced sexual hostility or crude gender harassment by their third year of college, and more than half of third year women students reported having been treated differently because of their sex at some time during their college experience, according to a report released by NUI Galway SMART Consent programme this summer.

NUI Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU) is working with the GRCC to provide Life Skills course in disclosure training which bestows knowledge and skills to properly deal with a disclosure of sexual violence on those who complete the course.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) ran consent workshops for Junior Fresh students living in Trinity Hall (Halls) for the first time in the 2017/2018 academic year. The workshops, held during Freshers’ Week, were attended by over 90% of Halls residents last year.

If you have been affected by the issues raised of this article, support is available from the following services:

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 778 888

Galway Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 355 355

Women’s Aid: 1800 341 900

Samaritans: 116 123

TCDSU Welfare Officer: welfare@tcdsu.org