When a survivor of child sexual abuse plucks up the courage to pick up the phone and reach out for help, it should be available to them immediately. Often it is the first time they have disclosed to anybody, even close relatives, that they were abused. Our waiting list for counselling at One in Four was closed for three months last year. The year before we also had to close the list for four months. Simply because of a lack of resources.
In Ireland, research has shown that 1 in 4 people have experienced sexual violence. This frightening statistic is similar in other countries where research has been undertaken. Our aim is to change this - One in Four's vision is an Irish society where children are safe from the threat of sexual abuse. For some, the burden of carrying the trauma of sexual abuse has become too much and they are considering taking their own lives.
When a survivor enters our counselling programme, they are supported to face the pain and trauma, and to understand how the sexual abuse has influenced their life. This creates a freedom to begin to make positive choices. The survivor can grow to become the person they truly are. It is absolutely unacceptable that so many people are denied the chance to transform their lives because we are unable to meet them when they need us. Right now there are too many men and women on our waiting list.
As one survivor explains, "I was terrorised and entrapped as a child against my will. Much of my adult experience of life had at its core terror and anxiety." "In my darkest hours I thought there was absolutely no way through. I believed that happy endings were for others and that the pain, terror and anxiety I felt were just too difficult to work through." "However, there is a way through and I am living proof of that."