Number using abuse victims’ support group services doubles

THE number of people using the services of abuse victims’ support group One in Four has more than doubled, a report released later today will show.

The report will reveal that 1,432 survivors of sexual violence attended One in Four in 2009, compared with 672 in the previous year.

Of those, 371 attended the psychotherapy programme for individual, family and group therapy.

“The majority (44%) had been abused within their families, 27% by priests or religious, 23% by neighbours and professors and 6% by strangers,” the report says.

One in Four said the biggest demand it encountered last year was for advocacy support, with 1,140 clients seeking help in contacting the gardaí, reporting child protection concerns to the HSE, engaging with Catholic Church authorities, and other practical supports.

“60% of advocacy clients were abused within the Catholic Church,” it claimed.

One in Four also said 21 men engaged with its sex offender treatment programme over the period.

The organisation’s executive director Maeve Lewis said deciding to make a complaint of sexual abuse “requires enormous courage”. “Unfortunately, many of our clients are failed by the child protection and criminal justice systems,” she said.

“The HSE response varies enormously... While the Gardaí work very hard to engage sensitively with victims, the criminal courts remain an arena where victims can be annihilated by archaic, tortuous procedures.”

She said it was ironic that, on paper, the Catholic Church currently has a better child protection system than the state.

“We have been promised that the Children First Guidelines will be placed on a statutory footing,” she said. “We are still waiting. We have been promised legislation to allow ‘soft information’ about potential offenders to be shared. We are still waiting. We do not know how many of the promised extra social workers have been appointed to child protection services. The waiting lists for promised support services for survivors are long. And the promised date for a Children’s Referendum is fading into the future. Through our apathy and incompetence, will we be reading another Murphy or Ryan Report in 2020?”

SRogers.direct@examiner.ie


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