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Rape, sexual assault and where to get help

Sexual assault is any sexual act that you did not consent to, or are forced into against your will. This includes rape.

If you have been sexually assaulted, it wasn't your fault. Sexual assault is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens.

Sexual assaults are often carried out by someone known to the victim. This could be a partner, former partner, relative, friend or colleague.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. You may have no physical injuries or obvious signs after the incident. But sexual assault is a serious crime and you can report it to the Gardaí.

If you need urgent help, call 112 or 999.

Sexual assault is any act of a sexual nature where you have not given consent. Not giving sexual consent means you did not give your permission for something to happen. This can be using direct language (saying 'no') or body language.

If you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, you are not able to give consent.

Watch a video that explains sexual consent by comparing it to a cup of tea.

Copyright ©2015 Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios

The age of consent to sexual activity is 17. If you are under the age of 17, you are not legally old enough to consent to a sexual act even if you want to.

Read more about consent and the law.

Rape and sexual assault

Rape is when you do not consent and someone:

  • puts their penis into (penetrates) your vagina, anus (bottom) or mouth
  • puts any object into your vagina

Sexual assault is when you do not consent and someone:

  • puts an object or another part of their body (not penis) into any of your body openings (not vagina)
  • touches you in a sexual way (groping)
  • forces you to kiss them

If you have been sexually assaulted

It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel if you have been sexually assaulted.

After a traumatic (very distressing) experience, it is normal for your mind and body to go into shock. It takes time to get over this shock.

Get help as soon as possible.

Where to get help

Emergencies

Call 112 or 999 in an emergency.

Your local Garda station

You can also contact your local Garda station in person or by telephone.

Contact details for your local Garda station.

Rape Crisis Centre

If you were sexually assaulted at any time in your life, the Rape Crisis Centre can help.

They offer advice and support on where to go depending on what your situation is.

Freephone: 1800 77 88 88 (24-Hour helpline)

www.drcc.ie

Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

A SATU is a safe place to go if you have been raped or sexually assaulted.

SATUs can help by offering a forensic exam and medical care. You may need help for a possible pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Find out what happens at a SATU.

Someone from the Rape Crisis Centre can come to the SATU to support you throughout the process if you wish.

Your GP

You may feel more comfortable talking to your GP. They can refer you to the care you need.

If you are under 14

Find help at Child and Adolescent Forensic Medical Assessment Services.

Reporting rape or sexual assault

If you're over 18

You don't have to report the assault to the Gardaí if you don't want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you.

But if you think you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic exam takes place, the better.

SATUs can store forensic samples for you for up to a year. In this time you can decide if you want to report the assault to the Gardaí or not.

Read more about why the timing of a forensic exam is important after rape and sexual assault.

If you're under 18

By law, healthcare professionals have to protect children from harm. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and you’re under 18, it has to be reported to Tusla and the Gardaí. This is to keep you safe and to provide you with support.

page last reviewed: 19/02/2020
next review due: 19/02/2023