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Dublin: 14°C Thursday 28 October 2021

Victims of child sex abuse wait 25 years to report abuse

New figures from the Rape Crisis Network found people who had been abused as children made up the majority of cases of people seeking counselling last year.

Image: ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock

PEOPLE WHO WERE sexually abused as children wait an average of 25 years to access counselling and support, according to new figures.

A report by the Rape Crisis Network found that the gap between the abuse and when people seek help was five times longer for people who were abused as children than it was for people who were abused as adults, who generally waited around five years.

The figures for 2011 found that the majority of people who sought counselling for sexual violence last year had been abused as children.

Of the 2,308 people who attended Rape Crisis Centres, 53 per cent of women and 84 per cent of men had been abused as children.

Director of the Rape Crisis Network Fiona Neary said the figures underlined the need for a Yes vote in the referendum on children’s rights this Saturday.

“We must continue to learn and make changes to become a society that listens to children and takes responsibility for their wellbeing,” said Neary, before calling for a Yes vote in the referendum.

“The statistics on the incidence, duration and relationship of perpetrator to survivors of child sexual violence underlines the critical need for strong legal and social supports to protect vulnerable children,” said Neary.

Almost two thirds – 65 per cent – of people who had been abused as children had been abused when they were under the age of 12. Most survivors of child sex abuse reported that the abuse went on for years, compared to 15 per cent of adult survivors who disclosed that the abuse had lasted for a long period.

Almost half of people abused as children were attacked by family members. The overwhelming majority knew their abuser with strangers making up just 5 per cent of perpetrators.

“While the family unit is usually the best place for children, these statistics show that it can also be the most dangerous place,” said Neary. “Legal protections and adequate resources must be put in place to make the family a safer place and to ensure that children can be heard when they are still children”.

Read: Teenage rape case underlines vulnerability to sexual violence due to drinking culture >

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