Note:One in Four's content is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, this browser may not support basic Web standards, preventing the display of our site's design details. We support the mission of the Web Standards Project in the campaign encouraging users to upgrade their browsers.

 
 

Press Release 17th September 2008

One in Four has called for an integrated national response to childhood sexual abuse in light of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in a range of settings including the family, the community, and in the Catholic Church. Launching its fifth Annual Report, One in Four reported a change in the needs of the men and women who now contact them compared to five years ago.

According to the organisation’s Executive Director, Maeve Lewis, “In 2002, the majority of people who contacted the service were victims of clerical abuse. Today, 64%of our clients have been abused within their own families or by people they know in the community. It is a huge challenge for us – as a society - to accept that most children who are sexually abused are violated within their own families, the place they should feel safest.

However, it is time that we acknowledge this appalling reality and take action. "Responses to child sexual abuse have emerged as different types of revelations have occurred, including separate responses to clerical and institutional abuse. However, there remain voids in the system – particularly where familial abuse is concerned. Rather than a fragmented approach to sexual abuse, we need to have all agencies working together regardless of where the abuse takes place. This will ensure more proactive and timely responses both in prevention and in service provision for people who experienced sexual abuse”

According to One in Four, those attending its service found that they had little support and help when they considered disclosing sexual abuse within the family. “Families struggle to get assistance from overstretched HSE staff, and often have to wait long periods for affordable individual and family therapy. Access to treatment for offenders is very limited. Most sexual crimes are never reported to the Gardai. The cost in terms of individual suffering and devastated lives is enormous,” said Maeve Lewis.

Responding to client demand, One in Four has developed a model of intervention which addresses the needs of everybody involved. Maeve Lewis said, “We provide psychotherapy for the people who have experienced sexual abuse, treatment for the perpetrators and support for family members. We have also identified that practical information and support facilitates people to choose the options that are best for them: whether to report to Gardai and HSE, whether to face the intimidating court system.”

The 2007 Annual Report shows that most people who contact One in Four are over 18. For the majority it is the first time they have disclosed experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Typically they have suffered years of shame and distress before they seek help, and some people have made poor life decisions as a result of the abuse. Had they received help as children, they would not have carried the devastating effects of sexual abuse into their adult lives.

Sexual Offenders Treatment

Fifteen sexual offenders attended the One in Four Treatment Programme in 2007. The Annual Report shows that the majority of sexual offenders are men, but 3% of clients report being abused by a woman.

According to One in Four, sexual abuse is always likely to pervade unless it is possible to make bold and brave interventions in every part of the cycle. Maeve Lewis said, “Most people feel revulsion and incomprehension towards sexual offenders, and want them to be punished severely. The reality is that a prison sentence on its own does not protect children. Unless we can provide rigorous but compassionate treatment programmes, sexual offenders will continue to re-offend. International research shows that effective treatment programmes reduce the recidivism rate to 1 – 2 %. This represents a huge saving in suffering and despair for the potential victims.”

In 2007, a number of offenders who did not come to the attention of the State Authorities contacted One in Four voluntarily, because they were concerned about their thoughts or behaviour, and wanted help.

Even when a sexual offender is convicted and imprisoned, there is no obligation on them to attend a treatment programme. “One in Four believes that if the Government is to be serious about child protection, we must find ways to ensure that sexual offenders understand the gravity of the harm they have caused, and support them in developing new ways of behaving and relating. A mandatory treatment programme for sexual offenders in prison and the implementation of rigorous support, treatment and monitoring services on their release would be an important policy step in this regard. The approach would entail cooperation between all statutory and voluntary services working in the field,” said Maeve Lewis.

Accessing the Criminal Justice system

Sexual crimes are among the most underreported offences in Ireland, with an estimated three in a thousand offences resulting in a prosecution. A sexual offender can be almost certain that he or she will never be called to answer for what they have done, and are free to continue sexually exploiting vulnerable children.

Engaging with the criminal justice system can be an extremely intimidating experience for victims. While respecting established legal principles, we must find ways to ensure that victims feel able to report the crimes they have endured. One in Four’s Advocacy and Information programme provides practical, non-directive help to people who have experienced sexual violence. The Annual Report shows that over 25% of the people who engaged with this programme in 2007 decided to report to the Gardai, a figure far higher than the national average.”

Men Who Experience Sexual Violence

The Annual Report shows that 60% of the people who attended One in Four for psychotherapy in 2007 were men. This dispels the myth that boys and men are not victims of sexual violence, and shows that if gender-appropriate services are provided, then men will come forward and talk about their experiences.

A National Campaign

One in Four said that its call for an integrated approach to dealing with child sexual abuse must comprise a public awareness and prevention campaign on intra-familial sexual abuse, the resourcing of quality, accessible services for people who have been sexually abused and their families, and the development of offender treatment programmes across the country.

The plan must also put in place professional services to encourage and support people to report experiences of sexual violence to the Gardai and HSE.

This will require cooperation and collaboration across all the statutory and voluntary services.

According to Maeve Lewis, “Currently we are a generation behind the UK in our child protection procedures. After years of Inquiries and recommendations, everybody knows what needs to happen if sexual abuse is to become a thing of the past. All it will take is the political will and adequate resources. The alternative is a never-ending cycle of sexual violence that is too painful to contemplate.

One in Four is a national charity which supports men and women who have experienced sexual violence either as children or as adults.

According to One in Four, those attending its service found that they had little support and help when they considered disclosing sexual abuse within the family. “Families struggle to get assistance from overstretched HSE staff, and often have to wait long periods for affordable individual and family therapy. Access to treatment for offenders is very limited. Most sexual crimes are never reported to the Gardai. The cost in terms of individual suffering and devastated lives is enormous,” said Maeve Lewis.

Responding to client demand, One in Four has developed a model of intervention which addresses the needs of everybody involved. Maeve Lewis said, “We provide psychotherapy for the people who have experienced sexual abuse, treatment for the perpetrators and support for family members. We have also identified that practical information and support facilitates people to choose the options that are best for them: whether to report to Gardai and HSE, whether to face the intimidating court system.”

The 2007 Annual Report shows that most people who contact One in Four are over 18. For the majority it is the first time they have disclosed experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Typically they have suffered years of shame and distress before they seek help, and some people have made poor life decisions as a result of the abuse. Had they received help as children, they would not have carried the devastating effects of sexual abuse into their adult lives.

Sexual Offenders Treatment

Fifteen sexual offenders attended the One in Four Treatment Programme in 2007. The Annual Report shows that the majority of sexual offenders are men, but 3% of clients report being abused by a woman.

According to One in Four, sexual abuse is always likely to pervade unless it is possible to make bold and brave interventions in every part of the cycle. Maeve Lewis said, “Most people feel revulsion and incomprehension towards sexual offenders, and want them to be punished severely. The reality is that a prison sentence on its own does not protect children. Unless we can provide rigorous but compassionate treatment programmes, sexual offenders will continue to re-offend. International research shows that effective treatment programmes reduce the recidivism rate to 1 – 2 %. This represents a huge saving in suffering and despair for the potential victims.”

In 2007, a number of offenders who did not come to the attention of the State Authorities contacted One in Four voluntarily, because they were concerned about their thoughts or behaviour, and wanted help.

Even when a sexual offender is convicted and imprisoned, there is no obligation on them to attend a treatment programme. “One in Four believes that if the Government is to be serious about child protection, we must find ways to ensure that sexual offenders understand the gravity of the harm they have caused, and support them in developing new ways of behaving and relating. A mandatory treatment programme for sexual offenders in prison and the implementation of rigorous support, treatment and monitoring services on their release would be an important policy step in this regard. The approach would entail cooperation between all statutory and voluntary services working in the field,” said Maeve Lewis.

Accessing the Criminal Justice system

Sexual crimes are among the most underreported offences in Ireland, with an estimated three in a thousand offences resulting in a prosecution. A sexual offender can be almost certain that he or she will never be called to answer for what they have done, and are free to continue sexually exploiting vulnerable children.

Engaging with the criminal justice system can be an extremely intimidating experience for victims. While respecting established legal principles, we must find ways to ensure that victims feel able to report the crimes they have endured. One in Four’s Advocacy and Information programme provides practical, non-directive help to people who have experienced sexual violence. The Annual Report shows that over 25% of the people who engaged with this programme in 2007 decided to report to the Gardai, a figure far higher than the national average.”

Men Who Experience Sexual Violence

The Annual Report shows that 60% of the people who attended One in Four for psychotherapy in 2007 were men. This dispels the myth that boys and men are not victims of sexual violence, and shows that if gender-appropriate services are provided, then men will come forward and talk about their experiences.

A National Campaign

One in Four said that its call for an integrated approach to dealing with child sexual abuse must comprise a public awareness and prevention campaign on intra-familial sexual abuse, the resourcing of quality, accessible services for people who have been sexually abused and their families, and the development of offender treatment programmes across the country.

The plan must also put in place professional services to encourage and support people to report experiences of sexual violence to the Gardai and HSE.

This will require cooperation and collaboration across all the statutory and voluntary services.

According to Maeve Lewis, “Currently we are a generation behind the UK in our child protection procedures. After years of Inquiries and recommendations, everybody knows what needs to happen if sexual abuse is to become a thing of the past. All it will take is the political will and adequate resources. The alternative is a never-ending cycle of sexual violence that is too painful to contemplate.

One in Four is a national charity which supports men and women who have experienced sexual violence either as children or as adults.

 
 

Contact information

Support and resources for people who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence.