54% of callers to Connect counselling report being sexually abused in childhood

54% of callers to Connect counselling during the first six months of 2015 reported being sexually abused in childhood.

Connect answered 2,565 calls during the first six months of 2015, which is a similar level to recent years. However, 360 calls made during opening hours were unanswered due to resource pressure.

63% of callers reported emotional abuse and 31% talked about physical abuse. 17% specifically spoke of neglect in childhood.

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

24% of callers spoke about abuse in institutional settings. 42% of these callers did not reveal who their abuser was, but of those who did 25% spoke of clerical abuse and 17% of abuse within convent settings.

31% of callers availed of repeat support calls, of on average up to four calls. 5% of callers said they had never spoken about abuse in childhood prior to calling Connect.

34% of callers to the end of June in 2015 were men, 64% women and 2% transgender.

Connect provides professional telephone based counselling and support at freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK.

It is an out of hours telephone based counselling service for abuse survivors which opens from 6-10pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Connect was established in 2006 following demands from survivors of institutional abuse that an independent and professional out of hours telephone based counselling and support service be established.

Connect Service Manager Theresa Merrigan said that many callers to the service, despite reporting sexual, emotional and physical abuse did not see neglect as necessarily an abusive experience.

“Our psychotherapists are often surprised to hear callers speak of deprivation and neglect in childhood in a minimising way. It is as if it has not occurred to them that childhood neglect is an abusive experience.”

“Connect helps people to find supports in adult life when childhood memories begin to overwhelm in a way that affects everyday life. Callers speak of low mood, depression, sadness, anger and low self-esteem. Many present with addiction issues, relationship problems, parenting issues and feelings of helplessness, confusion and hopelessness.”

“Some callers have longstanding mental issues with long histories of psychiatric care. The Connect service also supports people who are on waiting lists for face to face counselling with the National Counselling Service and other services,” she said.

The service is keen to raise public awareness that family members of childhood abuse survivors are also supported by Connect counsellors. In the year to date, 15% of callers to the line were family members.

Connect is a Freephone service from within Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK. 35% of callers were from Dublin, 11% from Cork, 8% from Galway and 5% from Laois. Calls were received from all counties in Ireland.

The age profile of callers was: Under 30 – 13%; 31 to 50 – 46%; Over 50 – 36% with 12% of this group over 60. The high number of callers under the age of 50 (59%) indicates recent experiences of abuse.

Callers hear about Connect from a number of referral pathways including the National Counselling Service (23%), The Samaritans (23%), media and newspapers (12%) and their GP (4%). Callers are also signposted by Survivor support services and other charitable organisations such as Aware and Console.

More on Connect at www.connectcounselling.ie

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