/  Freephone: 1800 750 780


What can I expect from The Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre?

Any experience of sexual violence is intensely isolating. Care, help and support is available in The Centre.

It is important to stress that the trauma of an attack or abuse may have long term effects on your life and that in dealing with and examining these you have a right to support. In order to look at the effects such as shame, self blame, isolation or depression imposed by the attack or abuse you need to have contact with others who acknowledge and validate your experience and how it has affected you.

It is possible to heal from the effects of sexual violence and to return to living a fulfilling life to your full potential

The Centre provides support, information, and advocacy services for both survivors and supporters of survivors of rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.

All Sligo RCC services are confidential and free

Our ethos is outlined in our key principles and mission statement.

Key Principles

  • Sexual violence in all its forms is an abuse of human rights and should never be accepted.
  • To provide a model of good practice in SRCC and for our clients.
  • To ensure clients are treated with respect and dignity.
  • To underpin our work with the following values: empowerment, equality, inclusiveness and mutual support.
  • To take a proactive approach in the area of sexual violence; providing education on the dynamics behind sexual violence, the effects upon survivors and society’s reactions.

Mission Statement

Our purpose is to create a safe place for those who have experienced sexual violence recently or in the past and to provide counselling and emergency advocacy if required.

We provide awareness and training to support other agencies who are working with survivors. We are committed to challenging the tolerance and very existence of sexual violence.

Our services can be accessed by dialling 1800 750 780 we will meet with you at a time that suits you and the only person you will meet at the centre is your counsellor.

For a full list of services available please click here »

Myths about sexual violence

Myths about sexual violence make it difficult for survivors to seek help, to speak out or be heard

MYTH: People are usually sexually assaulted by strangers

Fact: Our statistics show that 84% of perpetrators were known to the survivor, this would mirror international statistics (The Centre Annual Report, 2007)

MYTH: Only attractive women/men are raped/assaulted

FACT: All women and men are subject to the possibility of rape/assault. Interviews with rapists confirm that perceptions of the attractiveness of a woman/man in most cases is not an important factor of the attack. Impact of this myth: the mistaken belief that rape is about sexual attraction and that somehow a woman/man ‘asked for it/ wanted it’ by being attractive or getting dressed up.

MYTH: Rape doesn’t have to happen; resist and you won’t get raped/assaulted.

FACT: Physical force and violence is always present or implied in rape/assault. The perpetrator is in control of how they act, the victim is always reacting. Whether a victim reacts by resisting, freezing or submitting, the perpetrator will choose their action regardless. The impact of this myth: Survivors blame themselves. Society and the justice system question the survivor’s actions.

MYTH: People often make false accusations of rape/ abuse.

FACT: Reporting rape/sexual abuse involves complex, invasive and sometimes traumatic procedures. Women/men who have been subjected to rape/sexual abuse are often treated with suspicion and disbelief. Taking these factors into consideration makes it seem highly unlikely that a woman/man would make a false accusation of rape/sexual abuse. Impact of the false allegations myth: Victims are disbelieved by family, friends and acquaintances, particularly if the rapist/abuser is known to them, because it is suspected they may harbour motives of revenge or spite. As a result victims do not report or proceed with prosecutions and those around them are reinforced in the belief that they lied in the first place.

MYTH: Sexual Violence is well reported to the Gardai.

FACT: The Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland Report (SAVI), 2002, Mg Gee et al, showed only one in ten people report an incidence of sexual violence to the Gardai. Fear of being disbelieved, of hurting their loved ones (if, for example, the perpetrator is a family member) and fear of the attacker can influence a survivor’s decision not to report. Also many people try to forget it ever happened. Impact of low reporting: denial of the scale of the problem in our society and perpetrators continue to get away with it in huge numbers.

MYTH: Sexual violence only happens to an unfortunate few.

FACT: The Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland Report (SAVI), 2002, Mg Gee et al, found that one in five adult women and one in 10 adult men experience contact sexual violence. Impact: denial of the scale of the problem, the isolation of the victim and the empowerment of perpetrators.

MYTH: Child Sexual Abuse is a rare occurrence.

FACT: The SAVI Report found 20.4% of Irish women and 16.2% of Irish men had experienced contact sexual abuse in childhood. A further 10% of women and 7.4% of men had experienced non-contact abuse.

MYTH: A survivor of sexual violence can never really recover from the effects of the attack/abuse.

FACT: It is possible to fully recover from sexual violence and abuse. It is difficult to predict how long a recovery process will take for the individual and it can need commitment and patience. Counsellors in The Centre know this and will offer you the space and time you need to heal.

MYTH: Men/boys do not get raped.

FACT: Men/boys also experience sexual violence, they have started to attend our services over the years and report their abuse/attack to the Gardai.


What is rape and sexual assault?

Rape is an act of domination, anger and violence, which uses sexual penetration as a weapon. Not all rapes and sexual assaults are necessarily physically violent but violence is always implied or threatened. Any act of sexual violence can affect someone’s life very deeply. If you have been raped or assaulted, you deserve support to help you overcome this trauma.

Legal definitions: Rape is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Act, 1981(as amended). It provides that a man commits rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman who does not consent, and at the time he either knows that she does not consent or is reckless as to whether or not she consents. Section 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990 defines a second category of rape as a sexual assault, which includes penetration (however slight) of the anus or mouth by the penis, or penetration (however slight) of the vagina by an object held or manipulated by another person. This second offence is known as ‘section 4 rape’. Rape under the 1981 Act is gender specific and can only be perpetrated by a man against a woman. A woman may be found guilty of rape under the 1981 Act as an accessory; that is where she has assisted a man in perpetrating a rape. Section 4 rape, on the other hand, is gender neutral and can, therefore, be perpetrated by a woman or a man upon either a woman or a man. The maximum penalty for both types of rape is life imprisonment.

Sexual assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation, in the form of a sexual act, which is inflicted on someone without consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any other sexual acts, which do not come under the definition of rape in either the 1981 or the 1990 Acts.

Legal Definition: Sexual Assaults; sections 2 and 3 of the criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990 provide respectively for the separate offences of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault. Aggravated sexual assault means a sexual assault involving serious violence or the threat of serious violence, or a sexual assault that is “such as to cause” injury, humiliation or degradation of a grave nature. This offence also carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Sexual assault itself is not defined in the Act. It used to be known as ‘indecent assault’, and is still generally understood to mean an assault in circumstances of ‘indecency’. This offence covers a range of conduct, from non-consensual sexual touching to a sexual attack falling short of rape. It carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment. Both types of sexual assault are gender neutral.

Underage Sexual offences: Legal definition: Defilement; under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2006, ‘The age of consent’ is 17 years for both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse. Defilement, which is defined as any one or more of the sexual acts listed in the Act with anyone under the age of consent is illegal (except that 15-17 year old girls, will not be criminalised for engaging in full vaginal intercourse). These sexual acts are sexual intercourse, buggery, acts which would constitute an offence under either Section 3 (aggravated sexual assault) or Section 4 of the 1990 Act (Section 4, Rape, see above for definition). The presence of actual consent is not a defence, however, the defendant can argue an honestly held belief that the child was over the age of consent.

Incest: Punishment of Incest Act 1908, as amended, provides that a man who has sexual intercourse with his granddaughter, daughter, sister, or mother, or a woman who has sexual intercourse with her grandfather, father, brother or son can be charged with incest. Consent is not a defence to a charge of incest.

What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse means forcing or manipulating a child to take part in sexual activity, which for a child is always inappropriate. It can take many forms, for example:

  • Being made to look at pornography
  • Being made to watch sexual acts
  • Being watched in a sexual way
  • Being touched in a sexual way
  • Being made to masturbate or to masturbate the abuser
  • Sexual assault (section 4) involving penetration, however slight by a hand or object
  • Being raped. This involves penetration of mouth, anus or vagina by any object, by a finger or penis.

Child Sexual Abuse is often not physically violent, but it will always have effects on the development of the child’s psyche. The sexual abuse of a child may be something that happens only once or everyday for many years. Sometimes abuse is remembered in vivid details; sometimes a person will only have vague feelings that ‘something happened’, and others may have ‘forgotten’ for many years and only as adults find memories coming to the surface of their minds. The abusers of children are as varied as the locations where the abuse takes place, but more often than not the abuser is trusted by the child and is an authority figure.

Why is there such a silence?

Many survivors of child abuse keep silent about what has happened to them. As a child

  • They are often too afraid to tell someone at the time.
  • The abuser may have threatened them not to tell.
  • They may tell someone who does not believe them.
  • The abuser may have blamed the survivor, saying they are bad or different.
  • Abusers sometimes threaten terrible consequences if the child tells eg death or being sent away.
  • The child may be “telling” in ways that people around them do not understand.
  • The impact of the abuse may include the child feeling that telling will not make any difference.
  • The abuser may continue to be in the child’s life, with much more power to control events and circumstances.

As adults abuse survivors often

  • Find it is still difficult to trust anyone enough to tell them the full story.
  • Feel guilt and shame, terror, self-disgust, depression and fear of being overwhelmed by painful memories that bring it all back.

A child cannot be sexually abused without also suffering emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse.

The abuse will produce profound effects on all these levels, remember that it is possible to recover from these over time.

  • Feel they just want to forget the past, but can’t.
  • Feel they should be ‘over it’ by now and may be told these things by people who are trying to be helpful.


A survivor may:

  • Have nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Lack confidence.
  • Dislike themselves, blame themselves, or mistreat themselves by starving, over-eating or abusing drink or drugs.
  • Find it hard to trust people
  • Feel they don’t deserve to have relationships that help them to feel good.
  • Feel that they are over-protective of their children.
  • Feel that they do not deserve to be loved or happy
  • Find sex is a problem because it triggers off memories of abuse or because they feel under so much pressure to be ‘normal’.

Too much to cope with alone

Unfortunately in our society survivors of child abuse often never tell anyone or only find the strength and courage to do so long after the abuse has stopped. The good news it is never too late and many survivors have benefited from counselling. For further information on counselling please click here.

In adulthood memories may be triggered by reports of sexual abuse in the media or changes in circumstances such as a new relationship, having a baby or a death in the family. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, only you can decide if the time is right for you to talk to somebody. But when you are ready we are here call 1800 750780.

What is ritual abuse?

Definition:“A brutal form of abuse of children, adolescents and adults, consisting of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and involving the use of rituals. Rituals does not necessarily mean satanic. However, most survivors state that they were ritually abused as part of satanic worship for the purpose of indoctrinating them into satanic beliefs and practices. Ritual abuse rarely consists of a single episode. It usually involves repeated abuse over an extended period of time.” (Ritual Abuse Task Force, Los Angeles County Commission for Women, 1994)

Most sexual abuse of children is ritualised in some way

Abusers use repetition, routine and ritual to coerce children into the patterns of behaviour they require, to instil fear and ensure silence. Nursery rhymes, prayers, bath times or teddy bears might be used like this by an abusing family member; gifts, secrets, elaborate games, dressing up, taking photographs may be part of a paedophile’s ritual preparation of a victim.

The sexual abuse of a child is never a random act, it always involves thorough planning and preparation to gain and maintain access to children for their sexual exploitation. Satanic ritual abuse is therefore very closely related both practically and ideologically to paedophilia. However, satanic ritual abuse brings with it the added elements of religion and worship. Often generations of a family are involved and the acts may be incessantly more horrific than seen elsewhere. However, ritual abuse is not always satanic or ‘black magic’.

Child sexual abuse is always about power and secrecy. Ritual abuse survivors frequently fear for their lives – their abusers may be highly organised and have more to lose than custody or respectability. Yet survivors are beginning to speak out and we are here to listen.

Supporting Survivors of Ritual Abuse in Ireland

In the past 15 years survivors have been disclosing experiences of Satanic Ritual Abuse to Rape Crisis Centres, social workers, counsellors and other caring agencies here in Ireland. In response Rape Crisis Centres, led by Galway RCC, carried out extensive skills building, networking and research on the issue throughout the 1990s. The number of those who are coming forward in Ireland is still very limited but this form of abuse does exist in Ireland. Equally, expertise and help in recovery from ritual abuse is available in The Centre.

Useful contacts:
CARI 1890 94567

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is behaviour of a sexual nature that serves to frighten and intimidate the person on the receiving end. Sexual harassment can be ongoing for some time; or can involve only one incident.

By its nature sexual harassment works to undermine the victims confidence, belittle them to peers and colleagues and cast doubt in their own minds. Trust your feelings. Take action.

Sexual harassment can occur in many forms such as:

  • Verbal abuse (inappropriate, intimidating, humiliating, or degrading remarks of a sexual nature)
  • In visual or written form (as abusive e mails, pin ups on a wall, or something sent in the post)
  • Repeated unwelcome touch that feels invasive or uncomfortable.
  • Touch that is clearly offensive to you, this can involve touching of breasts or genital areas.
  • Manipulating, pressuring or forcing a person to have sexual contact in return for employment, promotion, or other rewards.
  • Sexual harassment can often be minimised by the harasser, for example by disguising it as a joke.

Remember Sexual harassment does not only occur in the workplace, it can happen in any number of other settings. Both women and men can be sexually harassed. Harassers can be men or women, and harassers are not necessarily of the opposite sex. There can be more than one harasser, and more than one person affected by the incident.

Effects of Sexual Harassment

As with any form of sexual violence or abuse, sexual harassment can have very serious effects on your life.

A. With sexual harassment, when it occurs in the workplace, there can be economic effects, and / or effects on the person’s career, which can have repercussions even in years to come.

B. There can be psychological, emotional, and physiological effects. People who are being harassed live in constant fear, which can cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

If you are being sexually harassed

If you are experiencing any of the forms of harassment listed above, and you feel frightened or confused by what is happening to you, then believe and trust your own feelings. Do not minimise it, or hope it will ‘just go away’. It might not. Sometimes harassment starts out with relatively ‘small’ acts, and then builds up into actual assault. If you have any physical symptoms which you attribute to the harassment, go to a doctor who will listen and take you seriously. The Centre will be able to put you in touch with a good doctor. Next, tell someone you can trust about what is happening to you. If the person does not take you seriously, talk to someone who will. You deserve support.

It is important to break the isolation that harassers induce with their behaviour


Reading resources

Irish Statistics

McGee, Hannah, Rebecca Garavan, Mairēad de Barra, Joanne Byrne, Ronān Conroy and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, The SAVI Report: Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland; a national study of Irish experiences, Beliefs and Attitudes Concerning Sexual Violence, Liffey Press in Association with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, 2002

Watson, Dorothy and Sara Parsons, ‘Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland: report of the national study of domestic abuse’, National Crime Council & ESRI, 2005.

Survivors’ stories

Hayden, Jackie, In Their Own Words: Coping with rape and sexual abuse, hot press books on behalf of Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Services, 2003

Child Sexual Abuse and Incest

Corcoran, Clodagh, Take Care: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, Guernsey, 1987

Liddy, Rosemary & Walsh, Deirdre: Surviving Sexual Abuse, Attic, 1989

Bray, Madge, Poppies on the Rubbish Heap. Sexual Abuse: The child’s voice, Canongate, UK, 1991.

Spring, Jaqueline, Cry Hard and Swim: The Story of an Incest Survivor, Virago, 1987

Wood, Kieron, The Kilkenny Incest Case, Poolbeg, 1993

Miller, Alice, For Your Own Good: the roots of Violence in Child- rearing, Virago, 1987

Recovery Books for Survivors of Sexual Abuse/ Violence

Bass, Ellen & Davis, Laura, Beginning to Heal. A First Guide for Female Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Cedar, 1993

Bass, Ellen & Davis, Laura, The Courage to Heal, London, Vermillion, 1988

Davis, Laura, The Courage to Heal Workbook, Harper & Row, 1990

Reading for Partners of Survivors

Davis, Laura, Allies in Healing, Harper & Row, 1991


Boumil, Friedman & Taylor, Date Rape; The Secret Epidemic, Health Communications, Florida, 1992

Warshaw, Robin, I Never Called It Rape, Harper Perennial, 1994

Domestic Violence

Colgan, Carina, You have to Scream with your Mouth Shut: Violence in the Home, Marino Books, 1995

Male survivors

Lew, Mike, Victims No Longer, Mandarin Paperbacks

Ritual Abuse

Boyd, Andrew: Blasphemous Rumours – Is Satanic Ritual Abuse Fact or Fantasy? An Investigation. Fount, London, 1991

Oksana, Chrystine: Safe Passage to Healing. A Guide for Survivors of Ritual Abuse. Harper Perennial, 1994

Female Abusers

Elliott, Michele (ed), Female Sexual Abuse of Children: The Ultimate Taboo, Longman, UK, 1993

Anne Dickson, A Woman in Your Own Right, Quartet Books.

Women’s Sexuality

Anne Dickson, The Mirror Within: A new look at sexuality, Quartet Books.

Eating Disorders

Campion, Marie, Hope: Understanding Eating Disorders, O’Brien Press, Dublin, 1997
Women’s Health

Rahusen, Jill & Angela Phillips, Our Bodies, Ourselves, Penguin, London, 1989


Herman, Judith, Trauma and Recovery, Harper Collins,1992