Victims seek help in record numbers after RTÉ exposé

ADULT child abuse victims have been contacting crisis helplines in record numbers following Wednesday night’s Prime Time exposé on RTÉ.

More than 70 people contacted Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s helpline immediately after two linked RTÉ shows were screened.

Both dealt with the issue of child abuse in State institutions.

The DRCC’s chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said most of the callers were ringing for the first time.

“Our helpline was absolutely jammed last night and the callers are continuing to come through today.

“Talking to the counsellors who were receiving the calls one could not but be struck by the overwhelming sadness that came through in all the calls.

“Many people calling had never spoken about their experiences before and were so relieved to be doing so now. Some were men and women in their 70s,” she said.

The RTÉ current affairs’ show publicised the case of 42-year-old Cork woman Louise O’Keefe.

She is due to appear in the Supreme Court in her fight to get the State to accept responsibility for the abuse she suffered at Dunderrow National School in the 1970s.

It explored how the Department of Education was not trying to scare off similar claimants by threatening to pursue them for all court costs.

Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said the State should be encouraging people to come forward, because many were still scared to.

“We still have large numbers of silenced adult children, who were sexually abused in our schools. Breaking the silence is one of the first steps to healing,” she said.

Angela McCarthy, Head of Clinical Services DRCC, said: “Breaking the silence, being believed and ideally, reparation being made, are three key aspects of the healing process.”

The DRCC said it wanted to call on the Minister for Education to stand up and ‘take the responsibility that is hers and say sorry to the victims’.

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