Fourteen treated at new sexual assault unit

The sexual assault treatment unit in Galway gave assistance to 14 people in just four months, according to figures released this week.

A new report launched by the Minister of Health Mary Harney has revealed that the Galway unit, which opened its doors in late August 2009, had seen 14 people from the day of opening up until December. Twelve cases were sexual assaults and were referred to gardai by staff at the unit. The average age of those seeking the service in Galway last year was 21, the youngest person being 15 and the oldest 34 years of age.

2009 was the first year that the six units across the country - Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Mullingar, Galway, and Letterkenny - were fully operational. The 2009 sexual assault treatment unit report found that in total 529 people presented themselves to the units, the vast majority of whom were women, but 5.5 per cent were men. The average age of patients was 24, the youngest was 14 and the eldest 80. The report also revealed that 61 per cent of those who attended the units knew their attackers.

The report also found that over half of those who attended had consumed four or more units of alcohol in the 12 hours prior to attendance - 11 per cent of the patients were unsure if a sexual assault had occurred because of amnesia due to alcohol consumption.

Commenting on the report Minister Harney said that the numbers were a serious concern but that it was reassuring to know that victims of sexual assault can now access forensic clinical examinations as well as more holistic physiological and psychological follow-up care delivered by highly trained specialist nurses.

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