Many individuals are raped by someone they know, others are victims of strangers.
How do I report a rape or sexual assault?
The decision to report an incident of rape or sexual assault can be difficult. If you do decide to report, however, it is important to report the assault at the earliest opportunity so that physical and documentary evidence can be collected. The Gardaí can be contacted day or night by phoning the emergency number 999 or 112. Alternatively, contact can be made by phone or in person to the local Garda Station. If you prefer to be interviewed by a female Garda, the Gardaí will facilitate this request. The Gardaí will interview you at the Garda station or at an agreed location, such as your own home, if requested. The Garda Station nearest to where the assault occurred has the responsibility to investigate the case. So, for example, if you are living in Cork and the assault happened in Dublin, then the Dublin Gardaí will investigate the complaint, and vice versa.
If I report a rape, what agencies will be involved?
There are a number of agencies involved in cases of reported sexual violence.
An Garda Siochana is the sole investigative agency of sexual crimes, and the first point of contact to report rape, sexual assault and past sexual abuse. The Gardaí investigate reports of sexual crimes by gathering forensic evidence and documentary evidence. The Gardaí are obliged to investigate reported crime as quickly as possible and to compile and forward an investigation file on the case to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent body in charge of prosecuting criminal cases in Ireland. The Office of the DPP decides whether to charge a person with a criminal offence, what the charges will be and in which court the case will be heard.
Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUS) are specialised units, based in a hospitals, where Forensic Medical Examinations (FME) are carried out free of charge. These examinations are performed by trained medical personnel. The purpose of an FME is to gather forensic evidence, and it is important that it is performed as soon as possible after a sexual attack – after a lapse of seven days, little if any forensic evidence can be gathered. Forensic evidence is forwarded by the Gardaí to the Forensic Science laboratory in Dublin. The SATU for Cork is based in the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital.
Support services, such as the Sexual Violence Centre and other rape crisis centres throughout the country, provide services to victims of sexual violence, regardless of whether they report to the Gardaí. Rape crisis centres provide a range of services to victims including: information, support, advocacy, liaison with other agencies, accompaniment, counselling and preparation of victim impact reports.
What will happen after I report?
Once an assault is reported, the Gardaí in the station nearest to where the assault took place will start an investigation. This involves taking statements from the victim and other relevant persons who may have had contact with the victim around the time of the assault. The investigating Garda is obliged to give you his/her name and contact number. The length of time needed to investigate a crime depends on whether it is a recent or past crime.
For more detailed information, download Sexual Violence in Ireland: The Criminal Justice System – A guide for Victims.
Is there a time limit on reporting a rape to Gardaí?
There is no time limit on reporting to the Gardaí. However, the chances of building a strong case against your assailant are improved if you report sooner rather than later. Early reporting allows for the collection of any physical evidence and it also can be used at the trial to show consistency on your part.
What are date rape drugs?
Date rape drugs can be used to assist a sexual assault, referred to as ‘drug assisted rape’ or ‘drug facilitated sexual assault’. The drugs often have no colour, smell or taste and are easily added to flavoured drinks without the victims knowledge. Victims may be physically helpless, unable to refuse sex or to remember what happened. The most common are GHB, Rohypnol (Roofies) and Ketamine (Special K).
What should I do if I think I have been drugged?
Call into your local Garda Station as soon as possible. If the assault took place less than 72 hours before, the Garda in charge of your case will ask for a urine sample to test for any drugs you have ingested against your will (eg spiked drinks).
The Victims Charter and Guide to the Criminal Justice System describes the criminal justice system from a crime victim’s point of view. It sets out your rights and entitlements to the services given by the various state agencies, and one voluntary sector organisation, working with crime victims. The Garda Síochána have published a detailed document for victims of crime.