Helpline calls surge after report

 

Counselling services throughout the country have reported a significant rise in calls from people seeking help following the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

The report, which was published yesterday afternoon, describes how children lived in "a climate of fear" in residential institutions run by religious congregations.

More than 1,700 men and women gave evidence of the abuse they suffered as children in institutions to the commission, with over half reporting sexual abuse.

The Rape Crisis Centre said this morning that it had been inundated with calls from members of the public since the report was published yesterday afternoon with many first-time callers contacting the organisation for support.

"Last night we brought in extra volunteers to man the phones and there was a surge in calls to our helpline compared to normal and already today we've had a large number of people contacting us," said Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of the Rape Crisis Centre.

Meanwhile, One in Four said it had also experienced a rise in callers to its helpline and added it expected this to continue over the coming days.

"At the time the Ferns Report was published in 2005 we had 533 new contacts in the couple of days following its publication which obviously put a huge strain on the service and we're expecting a similar response this time.

"The difficulty at times like this is having the resources to respond to people properly," said the organisation's chief executive Maeve Lewis.

Both organisations said they have put on extra volunteers to deal with the rise in callers to their helplines.

Meanwhile, the National Counselling Service, which is operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) said that it had received over 200 calls from members of the public.

The Samaritans said that while it was unable to collate exact figures, it wasn't unusual to see a surge in calls following the publications of reports into abuse.

"Periodically you do tend to get spikes in calls which are directly related to a particular event," said Suzanne Costello, director of Samaritans Ireland.

"While there have been a number of individuals who have previously come forward to talk of the abuse they underwent during their childhood, there are still a massive amount ofpeople who feel that they can't talk about the experiences they've had and so when these type of reports are published it often gives them the confidence to seek help,"

Helplines

One in Four 01 662 4070

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 1800 77 88 88.

National Counselling Service 1800 235 234

Samaritans 1850 60 90 90