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More sexual abuse victims are calling this counselling service

A higher proportion of calls came from men.

Image: Shutterstock/Bacho

TELEPHONE COUNSELLING SERVICE Connect has reported a 22% increase in callers receiving support this year.

The service, which is available on Wednesdays to Sundays from 6-10pm, has supported 470 individual callers between January and November.

Connect is an out of hours telephone based counselling service for abuse survivors. It was established in 2006 following demands from survivors of institutional abuse that an independent and professional out of hours telephone based counselling and support service be established.

Connect reports that up to 54% of callers described an experience of sexual abuse in the year to date, a 3% increase on the same period last year.

The overall number of calls received to the service (calls inside and outside of opening hours) in 2014 is in line with previous years and expected to reach over 10,000 by year end.

Connect‘s Counsellors expect to answer a greater percentage of calls during opening hours this year reaching 85% answered, compared to 80% in 2013. However, it remains concerning that 31% of calls come into service when it is closed and are unanswered.

Connect Manager Theresa Merrigan said the 2014 figures reflect a continuing year on year growth in demand – and an increasing pressure to meet that demand within the time constaints of the 20 hours per week which Connect is funded for.

“In 2014 there has been a high number of new callers which has placed a pressure on staff to find other services for callers as there is a concern around Connect’s ability to provide intensive ongoing support to such a high number of individual callers. Most callers are in need of intensive support, and while Connect can support people through crisis, our goal is to provide initial support and then direct people towards face to face services where they can receive the support of multi-disciplinary teams.”

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61% of callers have been female and 39% were male, which represents a 4% increase in men availing of support. In Cavan, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford the gender divide was either equal, or in favour of men.

A high proportion of calls are from Dublin, Cork, Galway and the commuter counties around Dublin.

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

Connect is available Wednesday to Sunday from 6-10pm at 1800 477 477.

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