Just 3% of child abusers unknown to their victims

ALMOST 100% of child abusers know their victims, new figures from the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland reveal. The network found just 3% of child abusers were strangers to their victims, a figure described yesterday as “astounding” by its director, Fiona Neary.

“At a time when the Government are continuing to drag their heels in putting a constitutional referendum on children’s rights before the people, the family home remains singularly unsafe for some children.”

Ms Neary said just over 50% of sexual violence against children was perpetrated by family members or relatives.

Ms Neary raised the child abuse issue because she was aware that children known to be at risk were not being allocated social workers.

“There are social work posts which are unfilled and an absence of resources for the investigation of sexual violence,” she pointed out.

Last year 1,840 people used rape crisis centre counselling services, an increase of over 8% on 2007.

More than half of survivors said they experienced sexual violence in childhood. The figures also reveal one in 10 people accessed rape crisis counselling services because they were subjected to sexual violence in both childhood and adulthood.

Ms Neary said she believed the initial sexual abuse made victims vulnerable in adulthood.

“Somebody who was a abused as a child may develop addictions and those addictions may put them in at-risk situations,” she said.

They also knew from sex offenders and the abused that offenders often weighed up their chances of getting away with the crime.

Ms Neary also confirmed that state funding for a follow-up to the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) Report, published in 2002, was not being provided because of insufficient state funding. Another SAVI report was estimated to cost around €1m.

Broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne, who launched the network’s statistics and 2008 annual report, said the first SAVI report showed that over half a million people in Ireland were raped, either in childhood or adulthood.

“It is an enormous problem and we have not begun to tackle it at all,” said Mr Brown, who criticised the Government for not prioritising a second SAVI report while being willing to give billions of euro to the banks who were paying their bosses excessive salaries.

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