Since its establishment in 1980, Rape Crisis Midwest has provided professional counseling and services for survivors of sexual abuse and violence.
Counseling and confidentiality are the key services that the charity provides and it is available for both men and women over the age of 16. Minors are also welcome but parental consent is needed.
On average, Rape Crisis Midwest sees about 85 clients per week.
*Miriam Duffy, Director of Rape Crisis Midwest, explained that the centre supports their clients through professional counseling and by having a team of on-call volunteers accompany survivors through a forensic examination or if they need to make a statement at the Gardaí station or in court.
Counseling is offered on both a short term and long-term basis depending on what is best for the client.
“Each individual that comes to us gets a service tailored to their needs as much as possible,” said Ms Duffy.
Individuals seeking counseling services usually call the hotline and are then scheduled for an hour assessment after which the they are paired up with a counselor.
Crisis counseling is also available for those who have experienced recent trauma.
Ms Duffy explained that the current issue of victim blaming undermines the healing process of clients who are already in pain.
Instead of firmly placing blame on the perpetrator, society frequently makes victims question themselves.
“It does not matter if you were stark naked walking blind drunk down the streets of Limerick, no one, no one has a right to touch you,” Ms Duffy added.
According to Rape Crisis Midwest website: rape is not a well reported crime because victims tend to blame themselves; worry about not being believed; or are concerned more about protecting loved ones, especially if the rapist is a family member.
85 percent of perpetrators are known to the victims.
Society tends to hide or minimize sexual abuse, but at the crisis centre they reinforce that the victim is not to blame for their trauma.
Tulsa, the child and family agency, funds 75 percent of the crisis centre’s €400,000 budget.
However, each year the organization experiences a shortfall of about €120,000. As a result, fundraising is essential to providing services to those who rely on them.
Mark Ryan is a third-year psychology student at the University of Limerick who is interning at Rape Crisis Midwest and helps with the charity’s social media and event planning.
Rape Crisis Midwest hosts several entertaining fundraisers throughout the year such as, the highly successful Quiz Night fundraiser which sold out and raised more than €12,000 on October 6.
“It was one of the biggest events of the year,” said Mr Ryan.
On Friday, October 20 Rape Crisis Midwest will be hosting a “Dainty Daisies” event at the Woodstock Hotel in Ennis.
This event is a creative twist on a beauty pageant as men dress up and take the stage to raise funds for the charity.
Additionally, in the Spring, the annual kayaking fundraiser will take place as kayakers make their way from the UL boathouse to Saint Michael’s boathouse in the city.
Mr Ryan gives credit to the volunteers who help set up events or even do bucket collections, “We have loads of volunteers who are a great help.”
Ms Duffy gave some advice to friends and family of victims. She said that if someone confides to you that they have been sexually abused, encourage them to call the hotline at (1) 800 311 511.
Every trauma and situation is different so therefore no one has all the answers.
She encourages supporters, who are trying to help a loved one, not to be afraid of messing up.
“Hold them by the hand and say let’s ring the rape crisis centre. You won’t have all the answers but go to a crisis centre who will have some answers.”
More information about Rape Crisis Midwest can be found at: https://www.rapecrisis.ie/home.html