Victims of sexual assault face delays in accessing essential services
Victims of sexual abuse seeking to access essential services are now experiencing significant delays in West Cork.
Adding to the lack of local support, research into the impact of sexual violence on victims was released today by the West Cork Women Against Violence project. (WCWAV).
Conducted by Dr Caroline Crowley, the Listening to Survivors of Sexual Violence and their Supporters in West Cork report looked at 23 survivors aged 18-54 and their supporters.
He found that delays in forensic examinations and medical care and lack of information and therapeutic support had a negative impact on a person’s recovery.
A key research finding found that most respondents first experienced sexual abuse as a child or teenager and sought help from another child or teenager rather than an adult.
He also found that the long-term consequences of sexual violence in the lives of survivors included the lifelong physical effects of childhood sexual abuse.
“The powerful voices of survivors in this report speak to us about the pain and long-term impacts of inappropriate responses,” Dr Crowley said.
“They also outline how to work together to support and care for and build a community with zero tolerance for sexual assault.”
Most of those included in the report said their first experience of sexual violence dates back to childhood.
More than half of these people said they also experienced this as an adult, with most cases indicating the abuser was known to them and most likely a relative.
A third of cases said that when they approached someone to say what had happened, they weren’t supportive.
The report recommended that a comprehensive and comprehensive specialist service with trained staff should be located in West Cork, along with community-based prevention and early intervention programs to support families.
He also recommended the provision of healthy relationships and sex education programs in schools.
WCWAV CEO Marie Mulholland said, “The voices expressed in this report are just the tip of the iceberg. They need us to hear them, believe them, and ultimately be there for them in practical, immediate, and meaningful ways to help them heal, while also working to prevent future victims.
“If we can do that, then as a community we will have moved beyond anger and sadness to find solutions.”