Rape and Sexual Assault

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre explains that:

"Rape or sexual assault occurs if a person is forced to participate in a sexual act without his or her consent".

Forcing somebody into a sexual act may involve alcohol, drugs, threats, coercion or physical violence.

Rape and sexual assault are not sexual acts but acts of violence. They are an extreme physical and personal violation of the individual, meeting the non-sexual needs of the perpetrator, such as the need for power and dominance and the expression of anger.

WHO does this happen to?

Anybody, regardless of age, gender, sexual preference or circumstance, can be the target of a sexual assault. If this happens to you or someone you know, help and support are available to you both within DIT and through external agencies such as DRCC.

Incidence of Sexual Violence in Ireland

In 2001 a major nationwide survey, which interviewed 3120 adults in depth, was undertaken on behalf of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. (The SAVI Report, McGee et al, 2002, The Liffey Press).

This survey discovered that 7.5% of Irish women and 1.5% of Irish men have experienced rape or attempted rape in adulthood. One in five women and one in ten men have experienced sexual assault in adulthood.


    • • The perpetrator is responsible, not the victim
    • • Vicious, violent acts motivated by anger and desire to dominate and degrade
    • • Alcohol or drugs nearly always involved
    • • Can occur anywhere: house, car, college, party
    • • Happens to men as well as women
    • • Perpetrator takes advantage of a situation which provides him or her power to rape
    • • In most cases the perpetrator is known to the victim (74% SAVI Report)


  • • Rape and sexual assault are sexual acts
  • • Women only are are targets of Rape
  • • If it happens in relationship or marriage its not really rape
  • • The victim is in some way  responsible through their behaviour or dress
  • • Didnt say 'no' or shout out - so not really rape. Victim often so shocked and terrified by attack, that they freeze
  • • Usually happens in dark isolated, lonely places.

Aftermath of Rape or Sexual Assault:

The violation of a sexual assault or rape has a devastating impact for the individual. The terror, helplessness, degradation and pain involved results in severe distress which can impact on every aspect of the victim's life. While the effects can vary from person to person,some common patterns emerge.

Immediate Impact ( days to weeks):

  • • Shock and withdrawal: May not tell anyone or report assault - assuming some blame and feeling responsible
  • • Panic and Disbelief: May be very frightened and unable to come to terms with what happened
  • • Dwelling on the details of the assault. Going over and over how it happened
  • • Recurrent and intrusive flashbacks of the assault, reliving and reexperiencing the feelings and reactions that were there at the time.
  • • Hyper Alertness - Sleeplessness and nightmares.
  • • Hypervigilance: Being on alert all the time and easily startled.
  • • Calm and rational: some people respond by retreating from the feelings and becoming very reasoned and logical.
  • • Denial: Minimising what has happened and pretending like nothing has happened - even to themselves.
  • • Obsessive washing: feeling dirty and tainted - washing over and over again.
  • • Physical trauma: If force was used injuries such as bruising, cuts or soreness around the genital or anal area may have been inflicted. If the person was beaten or physically hurt, there may be other injuries.

Common long-term effects:

  • • Recurrent and intrusive thoughts and images of the assault.
  • • Self-blame and guilt: the person may agonise over what s/he did that provoked the attack, regardless of the fact that it was not his or her fault.
  • • Fear: the person may feel unsafe, even in familiar places with people s/he knows.
  • • Deep emotional pain: the person may experience strong feelings of anger, shame, sadness etc.
  • • Dramatic mood swings, particularly following exposure to events or places similar to the setting of the assault.
  • • Difficulty in trusting, even those whom s/he knows and cares for.
  • • Sexual difficulties: memory of the assault may cause difficulties in current and/or future sexual relationships .
  • • Impaired concentration and memory.
  • • Difficulty in coping with normal daily routines.
  • • Development of addictions (drink, drugs,food)

What help is available?

You can contact any of the following services for help if oyu or anyone you know has experienced a rape or a sexual assault:

Sexual Assault Treatment Units

A team of trained women doctors and nurses are available to carry out the forensic medical examination. Five other Sexual Assault Treatment Units based in Cork, Galway, Letterkenny, Mullingar and Waterford provide a similar service

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