54% of callers to Abuse Counselling Service reach out for first time

Monday, December 14, 2015

Connect Counselling service expects to receive 9,000 calls this year, with 54% calling the service for the first time.

Connect said it is currently seeing a growth in the numbers of individual callers to the service, including new callers.

Service Director Theresa Merrigan said she believes that the increases are due to Connect being better known and also its anonymous nature which is comforting to people who are beginning to speak of childhood abuse, but not yet ready to attend face to face counselling.

Over the past three years there has been a 42% increase in the number of individual callers to Connect, a 17% increase from 2013 to 2014 and a 25% increase from 2014 to the year to date.

The overall number of calls for 2015 will remain similar to other years, as the increases in individual and new callers are offset by a reduction in long term and repeat callers who are moving earlier to face to face counselling and other services.

Connect provides out of hours telephone based professional counselling and support for abuse survivors – and was established in 2006 at the request of survivor groups.

Theresa Merrigan said: “For many people who have suffered childhood abuse beginning to speak of those experiences can bring feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt and fear of judgement.”

“The Connect Service, for many, can be a safe port to begin to put words on traumatic childhood experiences where the caller, who initiates the contact, can remain anonymous while at the same time receiving support from a professionally experienced psychotherapist.”

“Also many callers can find it difficult to get to a face to face counselling service because of geographical location, child care, lack of transport, or physical and emotional challenges. The telephone service can be an excellent resource for people in these circumstances.”

2015 statistics

Total calls for 2015 to the end of November are 8,113, with 4,944 answered.  2,460 were made when the service was closed and 709 were lost.

The most common overall setting for abuse was in the family (48%) followed by the community (31%) and 15% were institutional. However, in the caller age group over 50 up to 23% of callers spoke of institutional abuse.

In terms of the family abuse – 24% reported abuse by father, of which 12.5% was sexual abuse; 21% reported abuse by mother, predominantly emotional and physical abuse; 11% reported abuse by brother, 10% of which was sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse was the most common type of abuse reported at 58%, followed by sexual (55%), physical (30%) and neglect (15%).

The gender of callers was 64% female, 35.5% male and 0.5% transgender. 7% of callers were aged under 30, 41% between 31 and 50, 20.5% between 51 and 60 and 14% were over 60.

23% of callers spoke of feelings of low mood and depression with 10% reporting alcohol dependence. Up to 20% reported feelings of high anxiety.

The service received calls from all 26 counties across Ireland with approximately 2% of calls from the UK and Northern Ireland.

Connect is available at freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK. Opening times are 6-10pm Wednesday to Sunday with additional hours at times of high service demand. The service is HSE funded.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.