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One in Four today announced a huge increase in requests for psychotherapy and advocacy services by survivors of childhood sexual abuse since the publication of the Ryan Report. Launching its 2008 Annual Report, One in Four reported that it has accommodated more new clients since May 20th than in 2008 as a whole. 120 new psychotherapy clients and 491 advocacy clients attended the service in the past three months. This compares with 75 new psychotherapy clients and 426 advocacy clients in 2008 as a whole.

Executive Director Maeve Lewis said “By placing the history of systemic institutional abuse on the public record, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse has removed any doubts about the veracity of the accounts of survivors of institutional abuse. This has encouraged people who previously feared they would not be believed to come forward and seek help. Many of the people who contacted us are survivors of the institutions, but the Report has also helped people who were abused in other contexts to reach out. Our clients’ stories tell us that child sexual abused is endemic in every area of Irish society: in the home, at school, in the neighbourhood”.

The surge in demand for services has made it very difficult to respond to survivors in a timely way. Statutory funding was reduced in 2009 with a consequent reduction in staff. Maeve Lewis continued “ Nobody could have anticipated the reaction to the Ryan Report. It is an unprecedented event in Irish society and demands an exceptional response. The Government has promised that services will be available for survivors, but this requires adequate resourcing. While we appreciate the very difficult economic climate, relatively small sums of money would ensure that the needs of survivors are met. I am very disappointed that Minister Barry Andrews has been unavailable to meet to discuss once-off emergency funding. Apologies to survivors without action are meaningless”

One in Four’s 2008 Annual Report highlights its unique approach to the issue of sexual violence, working with both survivors and sex offenders.

One in Four provided 5,409 individual and group psychotherapy hours in 2008 to 161 people, and 426 clients attended our advocacy services for practical support.

Maeve Lewis said “At One in Four we believe that we must intervene in every aspect of the cycle of sexual violence if it is to become a thing of the past. In particular we believe that treatment for sex offenders is the major child protection issue of the decade, reducing as it does the propensity to re-offend and breaking the cycle of abuse. We offer risk assessment and treatment to sex offenders and support to family members affected by sexual violence”. In 2008, 22 sex offenders participated in the One in Four treatment programme.

The 2008 Annual Report demonstrates the changing needs of One in Four clients. While 21% of clients had experienced clerical abuse, 43% had been abused within the family and 20% by friends and neighbours. A further 9% were abused by professionals such as teachers or doctors and only 9% were abused by strangers.

One in Four is also unique in that the majority of clients are men. In 2008, 55% of psychotherapy clients and 63% of advocacy clients were male. This demolishes the myth that boys are not vulnerable to sexual abuse, and shows that if services appropriate to men are available, they will accept support.

The One in Four advocacy programme supports people to access the criminal justice system, to report concerns about children at risk to child protection services and to attend Commissions of Inquiry and the Redress Board. It is one of the few professional advocacy services available to survivors of sexual violence. In 2008, 63% of clients travelled from outside Dublin to attend the service, including 11% from the UK, Europe and beyond.

The impact of childhood abuse reverberates far into adult life. Behind the statistics lie years of pain and suffering. Our clients describe living with depression and anxiety, relationship and parenting difficulties. Some struggle with eating disorders, alcoholism and addiction. Tragically, a small number of survivors end their lives in suicide. With professional support people can truly transform their lives. However, recovery is a complex process and it takes time. In 2008, 58% of clients had been in therapy for more than 3 years, and 8% for more than 4 years.

Shame and fear are the core consequences of sexual violence and often prevent survivors from speaking out. One in Four plays a key role in articulating their experiences and bringing their concerns to the attention of policy makers. Maeve Lewis continues “The scandal in the Diocese of Cloyne which unfolded in the last months of 2008 would never have been uncovered had not One in Four alerted the Minister for Children on behalf of a client. This highlights the need for a vibrant, fearless non-governmental sector to ensure that the voices of the silenced are heard”.

Ireland has been shamed before the world by the revelations of the Ryan Report. We may like to believe that such widespread abuse of children is a thing of the past. It is not. Our child protection services are in disarray and affordable services for survivors are patchy. Maeve Lewis adds: “There has been a lot of talk about a national monument for survivors of institutional abuse. The only true monument will be effective child protection services to prevent further abuse. We mus place the rights of children at the heart of our Constitution and put the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing to demonstrate that we are committed to protecting future generations. And we must resource services for those who have already suffered so that they can reclaim their lives”.


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