According to figures released by the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), there was a 22% increase in helpline calls with 15,194 appointments made for those seeking counselling and support.
The RCNI added that 71% of the calls made to them were longer than average.
Rape crisis centres are reporting waiting lists of many months as “they don’t have the funding or the staff to provide immediate counselling and support appointments”.
The seven rape crisis centres included in the report that are members of the RCNI currently have 332 people on their waiting lists which continues to rise.
The report states, “To put this in context this means that a survivor may be waiting well over a year to be assigned a counsellor”.
Throughout last year, the RCNI saw a significant increase in calls each month when compared to 2019, with December’s figures being 34% higher when compared to last year.
The report stated that 83% (10,823) of those who contacted the helplines were survivors of sexual violence, with the report adding that their trauma was heightened due to the pandemic.
RCNI Executive Director Dr. Clíona Saidléar stated that underfunding has left the centres struggling to address the growing waiting lists.
She added that the network continues to operate on funding levels below 2008 levels, making it difficult to train and retrain new staff.
“We were offered funding to bring on counsellors for six months to address the waiting lists which are growing, unfortunately. But if we haven’t been training anyone for 10 years. Then there’s nobody out there to hire,”.
The 24-hour helpline can be contacted on 1800 778 888.