Abuse survivors wait decades to report


The Rape Crisis Network Ireland has called for a Yes vote in the Children’s referendum as new figures reveal the majority of survivors attending support centres suffered abuse as children.

Of the 2,038 survivors who attended Rape Crisis Centres for counselling and support in 2011, 53 per cent of females and 84 per cent of males reported that the violence took when they were children only.

The statistics, contained in a report to be published on Friday, reveal survivors of child sexual abuse waited on average 25 years before accessing support services, compared to an average wait of 5 years for survivors of adult sexual violence.

“Through fear of being blamed for the abuse, through fear of not being believed and through lack of support they suffered unnecessarily in silence for decades,” Rape Crisis Network Ireland director Fiona Neary said.

She said the vast majority of survivors knew their abuser.

“Across the board the abusers are known to children and in particular children under the age of 12,” Ms Neary said, adding that the majority of survivors attending the service came from this age group.

Calling on people to “come out and vote Yes in the children’s referendum”, she said the State has to “explicitly” put the rights of children into the Constitution “so we listen to children while they are children and not 20 years later.”

She told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that just 1 per cent of abuse against under-12s was perpetrated by a stranger, while family members were responsible in 60 per cent of cases.

In the 12 to17 age group, 10 per cent of abuse came from a stranger, 20 per cent from within the family and 40 per cent from someone close to the family.

In a statement, the Rape Crisis Network Ireland said the statistics revealed that home was one of the most dangerous places for survivors of child sexual violence.

“A quarter of all male survivors and 37 per cent of female survivors of child sexual violence disclosed that the abuse took place in their own home," it said.

“Overall, 47 per cent per cent of perpetrators of child sexual violence were family members. For boys, 31 per cent of perpetrators were family members, 30 per cent were friends or acquaintances, and 24 per cent were authority figures. For girls, 50 per cent of perpetrators were family members, 27 per cent were friends or acquaintances and 5 per cent were authority figures.”

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