One in Four supported 670 child sexual abuse survivors last year

Increase in young men availing of child abuse prevention service

One in Four has said it supported more than 670 survivors of childhood sexual abuse last year, with demand for services leading to waiting lists for therapy of more than a year.

The abuse survivors’ support organisation said it had to close its waiting list for psychotherapy services for four months last year as waiting times to access the supports extended beyond a year.

One in Four said last year it supported 673 men and women who were sexually abused as children, delivering more than 2,390 individual or group psychotherapy sessions.

Some 43 per cent of survivors the organisation supported had been sexually abused by family members.

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The organisation’s annual report, published on Tuesday, said more than a third of its clients were men.

It supported 492 survivors who were involved in criminal or civil cases, or investigations into alleged abuse led by Tusla, the State child and family agency, in 2021. The organisation’s staff had accompanied 53 survivors to criminal trials, the report said.

The charity also runs a prevention programme for individuals who had previously caused sexual harm to children, with 65 men using the service last year.

One in Four said it had seen an increase in younger men availing of the programme, with 7 per cent of clients aged between 18 and 25 years old. Nearly half of those in the prevention service had committed their offences online.

One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis said survivors of child sexual abuse still faced huge barriers to reporting or disclosing what had happened to them. Often this was due to a fear of not being believed or that they would be “ostracised by their families”, she said.

An under-resourcing of the State’s child-protection system meant Tusla “cannot hope to properly investigate every notification of alleged sexual abuse,” she said. This was particularly the case where an adult reported alleged historic abuse, she added.

Ms Lewis said the recent revelations of child abuse in boarding schools run by religious orders “must become an opportunity to drive systemic change”.

“We also hope that this may be a defining moment in creating timely, accessible expert services to heal the pain, suffering and damage that has been caused,” she said.

One in Four said it had running costs of €1.2 million last year, with three-quarters of its funding coming from Tusla, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Justice.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times