Rise in abuse victims seeking help

 

The number of people seeking counselling for childhood sexual abuse at the Dublin Rape Crisis centre rose by almost 5 per cent last year and is up by over 30 per cent since 2003, according to new figures.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's 2010 annual report also shows an 8.5 per cent rise in calls to the organisation's helpline relating to adult rape.

Speaking at the launch of the annual report earlier today, chief executive Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop said that over half of clients attending therapy at the centre last year were dealing with issues of childhood sexual abuse.

Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said demand for counselling services from child abuse survivors had risen sharply over the past few years in particular reflecting the impact of the Murphy and Ryan reports into clerical sex abuse in 2009.

She added that calls to the organisation's helpline had increased over the last week following publication of the Cloyne report.

Overall, 52.3 per cent of clients attending therapy at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre last year were dealing with issues of childhood abuse while 49.6 per cent of calls to the helpline centred on the same issue. A total of 549 clients were seen for crisis counselling and therapy last year, of which 87.2 per cent were female.

There was a 6.4 per cent increase in clients aged between 18 and 29 years using the centre's counselling services last year. Some 8 per cent of clients undergoing counselling had experienced both childhood adult rape and childhood sexual abuse.

More than 11,600 calls were handled by the centre's 24-hour helpline in 2010, including 3,382 from first-time callers.

Over 40 per cent of calls to the helpline related to adult rape, up from 38.3 per cent a year earlier.

The annual report shows that only 30.3 per cent of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre clients reported incidents of physical and sexual violence to gardaí and just 6.7 per cent of these were tried.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said the range of statistics included in the report and what they imply was "overwhelming and frightening."

"Sexual violence is a blight. It is a dark stain on our country. For so many people, it has changed their lives forever...and it is very, very difficult to recover," she said.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was currently consulting with the Health Service Executive and the gardaí about improvements to response services for those reporting abuse.

* Dublin Rape Crisis Centre national 24-hour helpline 1800 77 88 88