Mayo abuse survivors seek telephone counselling support

A telephone counselling service for abuse survivors says eight per cent of all calls received by it this year were from Mayo.

Connect said it received 440 calls from Mayo between January and November, and 54 per cent of callers described an experience of sexual abuse.

The service was set-up in 2006 in response to survivors of institutional abuse citing a need for an out-of-hours, professional, telephone counselling and support service.

The overall number of calls received by the service is expected to reach more than 10,000 by the end of the year.

Connect manager Theresa Merrigan said there was some concern around the service’s ability to provide intensive ongoing support to such a high number of individual callers.

“Most callers are in need of intensive support, and while Connect can support people through crisis, our goal is to provide initial support and then direct people towards face to face services where they can receive the support of multi-disciplinary teams,” she outlined.

Sixty one per cent of callers in 2014 were female and 39 per cent were male, representing a four per cent increase in the number of men availing of support.

The most common setting for abuse to have happened to callers in 2014 was in the family at 45.5 per cent.

Institutional abuse accounted for 16 per cent of calls, though this figure rose at times of public focus on institutional abuse, accounting for 23 per cent of calls at the announcement of the Mother and Baby Home Inquiry in June and July.

Connect is available Wednesday to Sunday from 6pm to 10pm on 1800 477 477 in the Republic of Ireland and 0800 477 477 77 from the UK.

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