herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Half of callers to helpline were abused as children

The figures for the first half of 2015 show that 63pc of callers reported emotional abuse and 31pc spoke of being physically abused in childhood
The figures for the first half of 2015 show that 63pc of callers reported emotional abuse and 31pc spoke of being physically abused in childhood

More than half of all adults who phoned a State-funded counselling service said they were sexually abused as children, new figures reveal.

The Connect phone counselling service answered 2,565 calls from January to June, but 360 calls made during opening hours could not be dealt with due to funding constraints.

Connect is part-funded by the HSE and has its own independent board with members from support organisations such as Aislinn and Right of Place. It was set up in 2006 following demands from survivors of institutional abuse for an independent service.

The figures for the first half of 2015 show that 54pc of callers to Connect reported being sexually abused in childhood.

A total of 63pc of callers reported emotional abuse and 31pc spoke of physical abuse.

Nearly one in five said that they had suffered neglect as children. People under the age of 50 accounted for a high proportion.

"Some 60pc of callers said that their abusive experiences took place in the family home, with 13pc reporting being abused by their father, 9pc by their mother, 5pc by a brother and 14pc of callers reported multiple abusers," said a spokesman.

One in four were abused in institutional settings and while 42pc did not reveal who their abuser was, 25pc spoke of clerical abuse and 17pc said it happened in convent settings.

REPEAT

One third received repeat support calls and 5pc revealed they had never spoken about abuse in childhood prior to calling Connect.

"Some 34pc of callers to the end of June in 2015 were men, 64pc women and 2pc transgender," added the spokesman.

"Connect helps people to find supports when childhood memories begin to overwhelm. Callers speak of low mood, depression, sadness, anger and low self-esteem. Many present with addiction issues, relationship problems and feelings of helplessness," service manager Theresa Merrigan said.

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