Helpful Information on Frequently Asked Questions

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What is counselling/psychotherapy?

The biggest part of our service is the provision of counselling and therapy for survivors of sexual violence and abuse. The traumatic experience of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and rape is borne by many in our community in silence. Through counselling and therapy, GRCC offers social support to survivors and helps them to examine their feelings around the abuse they have experienced and how they are coping with their present lives.

Your counsellor/therapist is not there to judge you or tell you what she thinks you should do. You are the expert on your life and what is right for you. Your counsellor is there to listen, believe and support you and to respect the choices you make. Your counsellor/therapist will be able to offer you information about some medical and legal issues and the reporting process. Your counsellor/therapist will be able to help you to explore the choices you have, however, whatever decisions you make is completely up to you.

If you are interested in trying therapy/counselling, call the helpline at 1800 355 355

What is counselling/psychotherapy?

The biggest part of our service is the provision of counselling and therapy for survivors of sexual violence and abuse. The traumatic experience of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and rape is borne by many in our community in silence. Through counselling and therapy, GRCC offers social support to survivors and helps them to examine their feelings around the abuse they have experienced and how they are coping with their present lives.

Your counsellor/therapist is not there to judge you or tell you what she thinks you should do. You are the expert on your life and what is right for you. Your counsellor is there to listen, believe and support you and to respect the choices you make. Your counsellor/therapist will be able to offer you information about some medical and legal issues and the reporting process. Your counsellor/therapist will be able to help you to explore the choices you have, however, whatever decisions you make is completely up to you.

If you are interested in trying therapy/counselling, call the helpline at 1800 355 355

What are the benefits of availing of counselling?

Many people feel they have a difficulty speaking with a close friend or relative. It is often very useful to speak with someone who is not personally involved. You may be able express the worries or concerns that you have to a counsellor, worries and concerns that you do not wish others to know. Often it is only when we talk to someone unconnected with our lives that we begin to hear what we are really saying and feeling. Counselling offers you this opportunity.

Do you offer counselling to adolescents and children under 18 years of age?

Yes, we have an adolescent clinic which offers counselling to children and adolescents aged from 14 years. The counselling staff in our adolescent clinic are experienced in working with this age group.

Is there any help for my partner/family/friends who may be upset about what I have told them?

Learning that someone you care for has experienced sexual violence can be a shock and may leave a supporter feeling helpless. We offer up to three counselling sessions to anyone who is supporting a survivor of sexual violence and support is also available on our Helpline which is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm (number).

Will counselling help me forget what has happened?

Counselling will help you understand that what you are experiencing is in fact a normal reaction to an abnormal event. This does not in any way minimise the range and intensity of feelings you are experiencing, but affirms their normality in the context of what has happened to you.

The counselling process can be beneficial in supporting a person to process what has happened in a safe way and integrate that experience into your day to day life, in time.

You may in fact find in the course of counselling that you begin to develop positive aspects of yourself that have been dormant or under-developed.

Are the counsellors who work in Galway Rape Crisis Centre experienced in the area of trauma/sexual violence?

All our therapists/counsellors are fully trained psychotherapists with additional specialist training in the area of sexual violence.

Who do you offer counselling services to?

Galway Rape Crisis Centre counselling service is available to all men, women and adolescents over 14 years of age who has experienced Rape, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Child Sexual Abuse in County Galway and its environs.

What happens in the first session?

The first session is primarily an initial assessment. This offers you the to explore, with a member of our team, what your expectations are from counselling. In addition, you will get an opportunity to hear about the services that Galway Rape Crisis Centre provides. Some background information will be discussed and the necessary paperwork completed.

How long does counselling last?

The number of counselling sessions varies from person to person. Initially, the client will be offered up to a total of six sessions. At the end of the sixth session it will be decided between the counsellor and the client how many additional sessions may be needed. Usually your counsellor will see you either weekly or fortnightly, depending on your needs and availability of the counsellor. Each counselling session will last for approximately 50 minutes.

Is there a waiting list?

There is a waiting list generally and the waiting time can vary. You will be advised what the current waiting times are when you first contact the centre. We endeavour to meet with you as soon as possible after you contact the Centre for the initial assessment process (generally within one week where possible).

How much do counselling sessions cost?

Services in Galway Rape Crisis Centre are funded by the HSE and by donations from the public. This means that there is no charge to you. However, many clients do make a donation to the Centre for sessions. Donations can be made…….

How do I make an appointment?

An appointment can be made by contacting Galway Rape Crisis Centre on :1800 355 355

You may also contact the centre directly on 091 564 800

What medical care might I need after a rape/sexual assault?

After a recent assault or rape it is vital to have a medical check up to screen for any possible sexual transmitted infections including HIV.

You may wish to take the morning after pill (MAP) to exclude a possible pregnancy after rape.

There may be bruising, and/or other injuries external or internal that will need immediate medical attention.

The Galway SATU unit (Sexual Assault Treatment Unit) will provide all of the above.

Is it possible to get a forensic examination at your Centre?

Forensic Examinations are conducted at the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit which is located at….. There is more information on SATU here

CONFIDENTIALITY – Does everything I say remain confidential between me and my counsellor?

Galway Rape Crisis Centre regards client confidentiality as a priority in all of its work with the people who access our services for their many different needs i.e. information, support, accompaniment or counselling.

However, issues regarding child protection or the safety of individual clients may arise where there is a legal requirement to report information to a child protection agency or the justice system. The limits to confidentiality will be discussed with you when you contact the centre and at any time you can speak with your counsellor when counselling begins about the limits to confidentiality.

What happens if I report to the Gardai?

In relation to very recent cases of sexual assault or rape:

  • If you have experienced a recent assault or rape, GRCC advise to attend the Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit or SATU unit which you can access via any Galway gardai station. This unit provides integrated services looking after medical needs, as well as the gathering of forensic evidence, and the taking of a statement. It will be up to you at a later stage to decide whether or not you wish to go ahead with the statement, but the recommendation is to make it anyway at first, and to collect forensic evidence, in case you do want to go ahead later. There will be a specially trained GRCC volunteer present at the SATU to offer emotional support as well as information and advocacy services.
  • If you are reporting a recent assault, do not shower or wash, but contact gardai immediately and ask to be taken to the SATU unit. Take a change of clothing including coat and shoes as the Gardai may keep the clothes you were wearing to gather forensic evidence. You can shower and change at the unit.
  • Do not take any alcohol or drugs, but if you have done so before the recent assault this should not prevent you from reporting.
  • If reporting an assault/rape – report as soon as possible. There is no time limit, but valuable forensic evidence is lost quite quickly.

After the initial stage of proceedings at the SATU Unit as well as in relation to any other cases of sexual violence or abuse other than those very recent:

  • If you do decide to approach the Gardai, we can arrange this for you, and can facilitate the statement being taken in a centre if that feels safer than going to the Garda station.
  • Bring someone you feel comfortable with. You are entitled to have them stay with you if you want. However if they are present during the taking of your statement their details need to be included and they may be called as a witness, for this reason the Gardai may ask that you not be accompanied during the actual taking of the statement. If however you want the person present you do have the right to insist on it.
  • Make a note of the names of any Gardai or detectives you have significant contact with from the time you first report.
  • You have the right to speak to a female Garda.
  •  If reporting an incident of child sexual abuse, or of sexual assault/rape that happened some time ago, it is of advantage to have as many witnesses as possible who can testify to strengthen your case.
  • The Gardai will ask you questions but they should only be relevant to your case.
  • You will be asked to make a written statement; this means a detailed description of the events before, during and after the attack. Make sure you read your statement carefully and change it if necessary, before you sign it. You are entitled to, and should request, a typed copy. If you remember other details at a later stage, you can make a supplementary statement.
  • If the alleged perpetrator is identifiable the Gardai may interview the person soon after you make your statement.
  • If the identity of the perpetrator is unknown to you and the Gardai arrest a suspect you may be asked to look at photographs or attend an identity parade, or go with the Gardai to try to identify the person who assaulted you.
  • If you feel you are not being treated well by the Gardai at any stage of proceedings, you can insist on seeing the duty officer or you can make a formal complaint.
What is it helpful for me to know about the legal process?

Galway Rape Crisis Centre has a free legal clinic which you can avail of some initial advice. Some points which may be helpful to know are –

When the Gardai have completed the investigation, they will prepare a file (containing all the evidence gathered and a recommendation as to whether to prosecute) which will be sent to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions).

  • The DPP’s office will decide whether there is enough evidence to take the case to court. Try to remember this decision is not based on whether they believe you or not, it is whether they believe the case can be proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. You have a right of appeal against a decision not to prosecute and if you so request a different lawyer will review the decision in the case. You have no right however to know reasons for the decision taken.
  • If your case goes ahead a decision will be taken as to what the charge will be and which court it will be held in (district, circuit, or central criminal).
  • The Gardai have a duty to keep you informed of the progress of your case. If a prosecution takes place it may be many months before it comes to court.
  • If the assailant pleads ‘not guilty’ you may be required to appear in court as a witness for the State. Your identity will be protected during and after the case unless you specifically decide to go public. The defendant’s identity will not be protected, unless that by revealing their identity the identity of the victim becomes apparent (e.g. A case of incest). When the matter comes before the court such cases are heard “otherwise than in public” meaning that only persons directly concerned with the case will be in the court room.
  • You are entitled to advice from your own lawyer and indeed representation by your own barrister (in limited circumstances), see the Legal Aid Board Leaflet No.14 “Civil Legal Aid for Complainants in Rape and Certain Sexual Assault Cases”.
  • You are entitled to, and indeed it is advisable to, meet the prosecution team before the trial.
  •  You are entitled to have present in the court with you your supporters or counsellor(subject to the permission of the Judge).
  • If the perpetrator is found guilty you will be entitled to submit a victim impact statement and or speak in person as to the effect on you of this offence before sentencing. Rape Crisis Centres prepare such Victim Impact Reports or VIR’s for their clients.
  • You are entitled to be kept informed of any pending release from custody of the perpetrator who offended against you.
  • You may have a civil case against the perpetrator and it is important to seek early legal advice about this as there are time limits within which such a case can be brought.
Do I always need to make an appointment or is there a walk-in service?

We ask all clients to contact the centre to make an appointment. This is mainly to ensure that there is someone available to speak with you. If you are on our waiting list we do offer drop-in sessions on an appointment basis, if and when the need arises.

I am hearing impaired. Can I avail of your service?

Our service is an equal opportunities service and therefore we provide sign language interpreters to enable you to avail of our service.

My English is not very good. Is it possible for me to attend your service?

It can be challenging to find interpreters to work with other nationalities but we endeavour to provide counselling services to any person who contacts us. Please get in touch with us and we will explore the possibilities of providing you with a counselling space with the assistance of an interpreter.

I have a physical disability. Is your Centre accessible?

Yes, our Centre is accessible.

I support someone who has a learning disability. Do you have counsellors working in your Centre who are experienced in the area of Learning Disability?

Yes, we have counsellors who have experience working in the area of learning disability.