One in four victims of childhood sexual abuse has attempted suicide. Shutterstock/Jo millington

Charity had to 'turn people away' after Belfast rape trial and Pope's visit put pressure on services

Charity One in Four said it had to close its waiting list last year due to a lack of funding.

ALMOST A QUARTER of sexual abuse survivors who contacted charity One in Four for the first time last year admitted they had tried to take their own life. 

The charity met with 911 people in 2018, with 111 of those reaching out to them for the first time. Of those new contacts, some 24% said they previously tried to take their own life. 

One in Four was forced to close its waiting list to new contacts last year over a lack of available resources after an application for emergency funding was turned down. 

It has raised concerns for the well-being of those who could not access its support services.

One in Four was established in 2003 to provide supports to victims of clerical or institutional abuse, and has in recent years been opened up as a support service for victims of all types of childhood sexual abuse. 

“In 2018 the Belfast rape trial and the visit of Pope Francis led to a surge in demand for our services,” CEO Maeve Lewis said. 

It is very positive that people who have experienced child sexual abuse reach out for help, but it is really terrifying when we cannot offer a service. 

“Unfortunately our application for emergency funding in these exceptional circumstances was unsuccessful, and we will always wonder what happened to the people we had to turn away. Access to expert help should be every survivor’s right.”

The breakdown of figures in the 2018 annual report show some 556 survivors contacted One in Four’s advocacy programme for information and support.

Another 146 people attended individual and group psychotherapy, while 80 family members also attended family support programmes. 

Phoenix Programme

Along with supporting victims of childhood sexual abuse, the charity also works with sex offenders through its Phoenix programme which it says is a “core child protection measure”. 

Some 52 offenders engaged with the programme in 2018, with 16 saying they abused a family member, 11 reporting abusing a known child and a further 21 admitting to abusing online. 

Almost half the men have never been convicted of their crimes but are willing to admit to causing sexual harm,” Lewis said. 

“Our rigorous programme helps keep children safe. Again, this programme is totally underfunded and has a waiting list. I find it appalling to think that children may be sexually abused because the offender cannot get access to a programme.”

The age of offenders ranged from 18-69 and has remained steady in recent years. In 2017, the programme worked with 54 members. previously examined how the justice system deals with sex offenders in Ireland after prison in The Explainer podcast. Check it out here: 

The Explainer / SoundCloud

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