Sexual Violence Survey 2022
20th April 2023
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released results from the Sexual Violence Survey 2022
The publication outlines the main results from the Sexual Violence Survey (SVS) which was conducted in 2022, following a request from the Department of Justice and the Government. The objective of the survey is to provide high quality national prevalence data on sexual violence in Ireland which will act as a new baseline for the levels of sexual violence in Ireland. The survey is proposed to be conducted again in 10 years’ time.
Four in ten adults reported experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime
The proportion of adults who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime was 40%, with higher levels for women (52%) compared with men (28%).
Overall, sexual violence prevalence rates in the survey show an age effect as younger people reported higher levels than older persons, for example, 22% of those aged 18-24 experienced sexual violence both as an adult and as a child compared with 8% of those aged 65 and over.
Four times as more women (21%) than men (5%) reported experiencing non-consensual sexual intercourse over their lifetime.
One in ten women (10%) experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse as an adult when they were unable to give consent.
Almost one in five (17%) men aged 25-34 experienced non-consensual sexual touching as an adult.
One in five adults experienced unwanted contact sexual violence as a child (20%) and a similar number experienced unwanted non-contact sexual violence (19%).
The majority of adults (78%) who experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime knew the perpetrator, with very little difference between women (79%) and men (75%).
About half of adults (47%) who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime told someone about it, with disclosure more likely if the experience was with a non-partner-only (55%) than with a partner-only (16%). Women who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime were more likely to have told someone (53%) compared with men (34%).
Commenting on the results, Helen McGrath, Statistician in the Social Analysis Section, said:
“We appreciate that behind the data in today’s publication are a range of individual stories, which speak to the lived experience of those who have, and those who have not, experienced sexual violence.
The publication today provides a lot of important detail and insight on a very serious and sensitive societal issue.
The survey focused on respondents’ experiences of a broad spectrum of sexual violence and harassment experiences in their lifetime.
Comment from DRCC:
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) welcomed the new national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence. While it had been too long since the previous survey was done 21 years ago, the Centre acknowledged the great care and thought invested by the Central Statistics Office in producing an insightful and comprehensive picture of the extent and impact of sexual violence on the Irish population.
DRCC CEO Noeline Blackwell said, “we were glad to be able to offer some support to the CSO in carrying out this important survey and finding an appropriate survivor-focused methodology to help identify those impacted by sexual violence, which is often still silenced in our society. It has been far too long since the last survey which led to the SAVI report in 2002, commissioned by DRCC and carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). This survey sets a new standard for defining sexual violence on an international level.
“Nonetheless and even if consistent with other surveys, it is shocking to see the level of sexual violence that persists in our society today,” she stated.
Professor Hannah McGee (RCSI), lead author of the previous SAVI report joins DRCC in welcoming this report: ”The survey today is most welcome, as is its delivery by the Central Statistics Office, signalling the government’s commitment to making this topic an important focus of its ongoing population surveillance.
Sexual violence is a major population health scourge, as well as a crime, and so regular CSO updates will be important to assess progress on State investment in its elimination”.
Ms Blackwell added: “In light of these figures, it is more important than ever that we acknowledge the harm done by sexual violence and continue to provide supports to victims and survivors. Not only that, but we must build a society that recognises the impact of non-consensual activity and works to eradicate it.”
Given the extent of the prevalence of sexual violence now revealed, but the low level of reporting of sexual offences, she said
DRCC urgently calls on the Minister for Justice and the Government to reform the justice system into one where those who are victims of sexual violence can report in safety and confidence so that they can get justice and perpetrators are held to account – and we have a safer, healthier society.
“The We~Consent movement is dedicated to broadening understanding and practice of consent in Irish society as a cultural change process. There is no excuse for abuse of power, abuse of vulnerable people, or for sexual activity which does not have consent from all parties. If we truly want to see a change, to see less harm in our society, we need to do something about it – we encourage everyone to take the time to talk about consent.”
For anyone impacted by sexual violence, at any time, the 24-hour National Helpline offers free confidential support at 1800 778888.
Comprehensive information on options is also available online at drcc.ie/fyw