Influx of calls to Rape Crisis Centre in the wake of Ferns

CALLS to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) increased by 75% in the wake of the Ferns Inquiry into the allegations of clerical sexual abuse was published, the centre has revealed.

During one three-hour period alone the centre received 40 new calls from people from the diocese of Ferns and other parts of the country regarding clerical sexual abuse.

DRCC chief executive Irene Bergin said the dramatic response that left their telephone counsellors “snowed under” came as no surprise - they experienced a similar surge in calls when the level of institutionalised child abuse was exposed in the mid-90s.

Ms Bergin said the centre would expect half of the callers to follow up their call with a face to face meeting with a counsellor provided by an appropriate service in their locality.

The DRCC also noted that the report had recommended that the Department of Health and Children should launch and repeat from time to time a nation-wide campaign in relation to child sexual abuse.

Ms Bergin pointed out that the SAVI Report, that had exposed extraordinary levels of hurt from child sexual abuse for the first time in 2002 had also called for a public awareness campaign to highlight the issue.

It found that most sexual abuse occurred in children under 12 years of age and 47% of those who had experienced sexual abuse had never disclosed or reported their abuse to anyone.

“Why has there been no concerted effort by the Government to implement the recommendations of the SAVI report?” Ms Bergin asked.

“Following the Ferns Report, it is clear that a pro-active campaign of awareness raising, information giving and education concerning these issues should be a priority,” she said.

As for the report itself, Mr Bergin thought it was one of the most powerful and deeply disturbing documents on sexual abuse after SAVI.

The DRCC’s helpline number is 1800 778888.

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