Trial venue and process: the victim and the accused

AuthorMuireann O'Briain
PositionChief Executive Officer of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) provides a
counselling and therapeutic service to the victims of rape and
sexual assault. There are now 18 Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs)
in the whole of Ireland, of which Dublin has the largest
clientele. We treat 750 clients a year and we respond to
10,000 genuine counselling calls. These are calls to our 24
hour, 7 days a week telephone helpline. Calls are received
from victims of sexual assault, survivors of child sexual
abuse, and from family members and friends of victims. Of
the clients we see in the Centre, 50% have suffered adult rape
or sexual assault, 41% have suffered child sexual abuse, and
8% have suffered both child sexual abuse and adult assault.
12% of the people who access our counselling services are
male, while 17% of those accessing the telephone helpline
are male.
Rape and sexual assault have very serious
consequences for the victims, with life-long consequences for
those who do not access counselling and therapeutic services.
Depression and psychiatric illness are common in such
victims, and there is also a strong link between suicide and
sexual abuse, particularly for young men.
It is for these reasons that the DRCC campaigned to
have the jurisdiction for the trial of rape and sexual assault
brought into the High Court and to be given the same status
as the crime of murder. We have not moved from that
position, and are supported in it by the Network of Rape
Crisis Centres, which represents 17 of the RCCs in Ireland,
including the DRCC. We know that rape is used as a weapon
of war to humiliate and degrade women; it is the same urge to
demonstrate power and control over another person that
provokes a person to rape another. Our society has to place
that type of act on a comparable level with the act of murder,
because it removes the right of the victim to the application
2003] Trial Venue and Process 113
* Chief Executive Officer of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

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