Senator calls for mandatory reporting of child abuse after shocking rape crisis report

A local politician has highlighted the importance of mandatory reporting of child abuse in the wake of new statistics which indicate that one in two people who contact Galway Rape Crisis Centre for help are survivors of childhood abuse.

Launching the centre’s annual report, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames said this was a “huge” statistic.

“Fifty per cent of clients of GRCC were victims of a heinous crime - child abuse. We need to work to prevent the crime of childhood abuse through highlighting the importance of mandatory reporting of child abuse and putting child protection guidelines on a statutory footing.

“These are things we can do, which the Government can do, that I am committed to and that Fine Gael will do in Government.”

She said it was a real pity that there was a need for the type of service the GRCC provides.

“Unfortunately there is a dark side of life, of Irish life, of the human condition, though frequently hidden but nevertheless real, a very real fact of life. Look at the work of GRCC - this is their reality - 2,180 calls to the centre in 2009, 2609 in-person counselling sessions.

“An increase of eight per cent in client need. It is good that there is an increase in reporting but bad that the need is greater and worrying that funding was down by seven per cent. We would be naive to think that it wouldn’t be under attack again next year.”

The Oranmore Fine Gael senator praised the centre for its excellent work and said it had helped people put their lives back together.

”I heard first-hand how the expertise of the RCC helped reconstruct a young schoolgirl victim’s life. Without this intervention this 16-year-old’s life would have been lost. The victim has to live with a self that has been violated. The Rape Crisis Centre brought her back to life, restored her confidence so much that she can speak now about it in a way that she is no longer broken, yet her story can leave the listener broken.

‘To the GRCC centre and staff I say, stay inspired, you do wonderful health and life-giving work. You are needed. Don’t give up.”

The Galway Rape Crisis Centre’s report for 2009 revealed the number of men contacting the facility almost doubled in the past three years. Twelve per cent of the centre’s clients are now males compared with six per cent in 2007. They tend to present later than females, most tend to be in their mid to late thirties. The majority are survivors of child abuse, the remainder have been raped as adults.

The number of male and female clients contacting the centre increased by eight per cent with 2,180 calls being made to the centre last year. A total of 2,609 in-person counselling sessions, averaging 50 per week, took place there.

The age profile of clients ranges from 23 to 40 years. However, the centre has older and younger clients also, ranging from people in their mid teens to early eighties.

The report outlines that the number of asylum seekers being seen by the centre dropped from 24 per cent in 2008 to eight per cent in 2009. This may be due to a declining number of asylum seekers in Ireland.

Due to lack of funding there was a three month waiting list for long-term counselling last year - funding for the centre was cut by seven per cent in 2009. This shortfall must be made up by fundraising locally.

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