‘Not happily ever after’: National Helpline agencies launch new joint campaign highlighting sexual violence in relationships

8 May 2014

Today, Thursday 8th May, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid launch the brand new ‘Not happily ever after’ national public awareness campaign, highlighting the crime of sexual violence within relationships, reported by 6% of women (91,000 women) in Ireland in a recent survey.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said: “Recent EU-wide research shows that under-reporting of sexual violence in relationships is significant, with respondents in Ireland reporting particularly low levels of help-seeking. The extent to which women recognise that rape by an intimate partner is a crime is one factor in reporting. So we’ve launched this campaign to help women overcome the shame and fear associated with this crime, and to highlight the support that is available.”

Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said: “The campaign plays on the fairy-tale notion of ‘happily-ever-after’ to call attention to sexual violence within relationships, questioning the common misconception that sexual violence is mainly perpetrated by strangers. In reality, women are at risk of sexual violence from their partners, exes or someone they know. Almost one quarter of perpetrators of sexual violence against adult women in Ireland are intimate partners or exes. Yet there has only been one marital rape conviction in nearly a quarter century since the law has been on the statute books.”

Ms O’Malley Dunlop continued: “Both physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences are common and reflect the repeat victimisation in relationships where there is sexual violence, coercion and control. Over half of women raped by their partner experienced more than one incident of sexual violence and one third of victims experienced 6 or more incidents of rape by their current partner. Despite these consequences, for a quarter of victims, feeling ashamed or embarrassed about what had happened stopped them from reporting the crime or seeking help. This campaign aims to challenge the culture of victim blaming that leaves women silenced and ashamed, while violent perpetrators remain outside the criminal justice system.”

Ms. Martin concluded: “The Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre National 24 Hour Helpline understand how difficult it is for women experiencing sexual coercion or rape at the hands of their partner to talk about what is happening. All too often, women feel alone and isolated, unaware that help is available or unable to make sense of what is being done to them. We hope this campaign will encourage women to pick up the phone and speak to someone they can trust, who will understand and support them, in complete confidence. Women’s Aid and Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have long worked together to support women through sexual violence and will continue to cooperate to address this crime.”

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid run two key national Helplines providing support on sexual violence and are coming together on an unprecedented scale to raise awareness of this issue with this brand new campaign.

The ‘Not happily ever after’ campaign will run through to June 2nd. The campaign includes national outdoor, radio, and digital advertising, and is funded by Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.


For more information: Laura Shehan, Women’s Aid Communications Officer (087 919 2457 or 01 678 8858) or Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO (01 661 4911 or 086 809 9618).

Notes to the editor

  • Photographs: Taken and distributed by Paul Sharp and available from paul@sharppix.ie
  • Case Studies: are available at www.nothappilyeverafter.ie
    • Dublin Rape Crisis Centre operates a National 24 Hour Helpline 1800 778888, which is available 365 days a year, for victims of sexual violence, their supporters and families as well as other professionals and members of the public. Face to face crisis counselling and long-term therapy is also provided.  Appointments are arranged by contacting the Helpline.
    • Women's Aid is a leading national organisation providing support and information to women affected by violence and abuse in intimate relationships. It runs the National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 and Dublin based one to one and court accompaniment services.
    • Statistics in this release are included in the EU Fundamental Rights Agency report ‘Violence against Women: an EU Wide Survey’(2014) and The SAVI Report (2002).
    • Say  Something” – A study of students’ experiences of Harassment, Stalking, Violence and Sexual Assault published in September 2013 by USI (Union of Students in Ireland)  – found that 29% of perpetrators of sexual violence were partners, or ex partners.