Isolation ‘traumatic’ for rape victims

By Sarah Slevin

Isolated sexual assault victims have been experiencing flashbacks of past sexual trauma during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre.

Theresa Merrigan, Clinical Manager at Galway Rape Crisis Centre, said that the number of people contacting their helpline was increasing.

“The Centre initially experienced a quiet period over March and April. It was as if the public were adjusting to this new threat. As the nation came to terms with words such as ‘restrictions’ and ‘lockdown’, it was notable that there was almost a sense of ‘calm before the storm’,” she said.

The quiet period was short lived as the impact of the lockdown began to have an impact on people who had previously experienced sexual trauma.

“From May 2020 onwards, what was notable initially was the increase in historical abuse presentations. As people were more and more isolated, memories of past traumas appeared to emerge,” she said.

Ms Merrigan said the number seeking appointments had also increased in March and April of this year. 

People are presenting with past experiences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment as well as childhood sexual abuse, she added.

– The centre’s helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am-1pm on 1800 355 355. There is a national helpline is open 24 hours a day on 1800 77 8888.

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