Victims of sexual violence face waiting over a year for counsellors
Waiting lists are only increasing.
*Content warning - this article contains references to sexual assault and rape.*
Survivors of sexual assault and violence now have to wait over a year to see a counsellor after the services saw major underfunding.
According to rape crisis centres across Ireland, due to severe underfunding, there are now long waiting lists for survivors to be seen to.
The Irish Examiner reports that regional centres are looking at an “emergency situation”, with the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland saying there has been a massive increase in demand for these services.
The Rape Crisis Network's 2020 report showed that there were 15,194 appointments for counselling and support, an increase of 26% from the previous year along with 13,068 helpline contacts, up 22%.
Within the last 10 years, contact to these helplines has seen a 100% increase, with a 63% increase in appointments provided by the centres and a 30% increase in the number of survivors and supporters attending these facilities.
Despite such an increase, these centres showed in the report that there are currently 332 people on waiting lists, with the figure only growing.
Some centre waiting lists see people get seen within eight weeks while others could be waiting over a year, with seven centres across Ireland dealing with this issue.
Their aim is to ensure there is no waiting list and those in need of support get it in the immediate aftermath of rape or sexual assault.
The report states that underfunding is "leading to an inability to train, recruit and retain counsellors resulting in long waiting lists for survivors in urgent need of support."
And with a lack of resources and recruitment, the report added that they are "losing out on valuable expertise."
"Our fundraising has been decimated by the pandemic with the result that our centres now face fast dwindling bank balances," the report says.