Men wrestling pedophilic thoughts are seeking psychological treatment to try and stop themselves offending, it emerged today.
Even though gardaí have not identified the possible abusers, a small number have come forward for therapy at one of the country’s leading sex abuse support groups.
One in Four said sexual predators who have never come to the attention of authorities have sought counselling to deal with their thoughts or behaviour.
Convicted paedophiles are also among 15 men being treated at the Dublin centre.
Executive Director, Maeve Lewis, said the cycle of sexual abuse can only be broken by treating offenders.
“In the past year some men who have never come to the attention of the authorities and are worried about their thoughts or behaviour have asked for help,” said Mr Lewis.
“This is actually before they begin abusing children, or to stop the abuse.
“It is absolutely crucial that those people should have access to this service.
“We consider that if the cycle of abuse is ever to end, sexual offender treatment is really the core issue.”
Although most of the abusers are referred by the HSE, courts, or on release from prison, a quarter of those on the programme sought treatment independently. Four others are on a six month waiting list.
One in Four said its Silver Mile campaign, which aims to raise €125,000 by placing a trail of €2 silver coins around the perimeter of St Stephen’s Green, is crucial for services.
Last year it delivered almost 6,000 hours of counselling to 130 people and supported a further 500 women and men through its advocacy programme.
Some 70 victims of abuse are on its waiting list for counselling.
“It is a terrible thing if somebody plucks up the courage to reach out for help to be told they have to wait,” continued Ms Lewis.
“Although it is a difficult time for people financially, most people can afford two euro. We are relying more than ever on the generosity of public, ordinary people, to complete the circle of the green.”
Unlike other support groups almost 60% of all victims who contact the organisation, which was founded by Colm O’Gorman, are men.
Ms Lewis said Mr O’Gorman, who spoke openly about his own personal experiences of clergy abuse, has encouraged others to come forward.
“Since Colm left the numbers of men coming to us are still high partly because the services here are geared towards men,” added Ms Lewis.
“Almost a quarter of Irish men have experienced some sort of unwelcome sexual advance in childhood and we are the service that predominately offers them help.
“When men contact us they feel welcomed and feel they are in the right place. They meet other men with similar experiences and that makes a huge difference.”