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Massive increase in new callers to service for childhood abuse victims

The most common overall setting for abuse was in the family with one quarter of these callers saying their fathers abused them.

Image: woman on phone image via Shutterstock

A COUNSELLING SERVICE for survivors of childhood abuse in Ireland has said there was a substantial increase in new callers in the last year.

Connect Counselling said it expects it will have received some 9,000 calls by the end of the year, with 54% of service users reaching out for the first time.

“For many people who have suffered childhood abuse beginning to speak of those experiences can bring feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt and fear of judgement,” director Theresa Merrigan said today. She said she believes the increase in new callers is due to the service being better known now and due to its anonymous nature which is comforting to those who are not ready to for face-to-face counselling.

Also many callers can find it difficult to get to a face to face counselling service because of geographical location, child care, lack of transport, or physical and emotional challenges. The telephone service can be an excellent resource for people in these circumstances.

Over the past three years, there has been a 42% increase in individual callers to Connect.

The most common overall setting for abuse was in the family (48%) followed by the community (31%) and 15% were institutional. However, in the caller age group over 50 up to 23% of callers spoke of institutional abuse.

In terms of the family abuse – 24% reported abuse by father, of which 12.5% was sexual abuse; 21% reported abuse by mother, predominantly emotional and physical abuse; 11% reported abuse by brother, 10% of which was sexual abuse. Emotional abuse was the most common type reported overall.

65% of callers were female, 35% were male and 0.5% were transgender. Just 7% of callers were under the age of 30.

Connect, which is a HSE funded service, is available at freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK. Opening times are 6-10pm Wednesday to Sunday with additional hours at times of high service demand.

Read: Almost 700 arrests across UK in child abuse images crackdown>

Read: Bishop apologises for alleged child abuse by former parish priest>

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