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Abuse survivors' helpline expects 12 per cent increase in calls

Connect said it expects to receive 8,300 calls this year compared to 7,376 last year.

Image: Telephone via Shutterstock

A TELEPHONE COUNSELLING service for abuse survivors said that it expects a 12 per cent increase in calls this year.

Connect Counselling said it anticipates a 12 per cent increase in calls received during opening hours in 2013, receiving approximately 8,300 calls compared to 7,376 last year.

Its counsellors also expect to answer a greater percentage of calls during opening hours this year, with 80 per cent answered compared to 75 per cent in 2012.

Connect said that the overall number of calls received this year, which includes calls inside and outside of opening hours in line, is anticipated to be just over 11,000. This figure is similar to 2011 and 2012.

Calls

Connect has based its 2013 figures on the number of calls which it has received so far this year, saying it expects them to continue at a similar level to the end of December.

The increase reflects the continuing year-on-year growth in demand for the service, said Connect.

Connect manager Theresa Merrigan expressed concern about the number of calls that go unanswered:

The 2013 figures show that the service has challenges with capacity. 20 per cent of overall calls are received when the service is closed and 20 per cent of calls received during opening hours are not answered due to staff capacity.

She said that an increasing number of callers to Connect talk to the counsellors about isolation:

Many callers present with psychiatric histories and are not availing of other professional or community support. Isolation is one of the key issues that callers talk about.

According to Connect:

  • The most common setting for abuse to have happened to callers (from October 2012 – September 2013) was in the family (40 per cent), followed by the community (26 per cent)
  • Institutional abuse accounted for 16 per cent of calls
  • However, this figure rose at times of public focus on institutional abuse, accounting for 22 per cent of calls at the period of the Magdalene Report in early 2013.
  • Callers were 64 per cent female, 35.5 per cent male and .5 per cent transgender. This represents an increase in the number of men contacting Connect.

The service also noted:

  • 51 per cent of callers reported sexual abuse.
  • Of callers who reported abuse within families, 27 per cent said that it was perpetrated by the brother, 25 per cent father, 10 per cent uncle and 7 per cent grandfather.
  • 17 per cent of institutional survivors who contacted the service reported an experience of sexual abuse.

This year, Connect received calls from all counties in the Republic as well as from Northern Ireland and Britain.

“Calls from the UK accounted for 3 per cent of calls during the October 2012 – September 2013 period, up from 1.5 per cent in 2011,” said Merrigan. “We would like this figure to be higher as many abuse survivors now live in the UK.”

Of the calls that came from the Republic, a high proportion of callers were from Dublin, Cork, Galway and the commuter counties around Dublin.

“We would encourage more callers from rural areas, particularly from the Western seaboard counties,” Merrigan said.

Connect Counselling is available Wednesday to Sunday from 6-10pm at 1800 477 477 and from the UK at 0800 477 477 77.

Read: Abuse counselling service extends hours until 6 January>

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