COVID 19 has thrown us all into a very different space. Stressful times and feeling vulnerable can trigger feelings and memories of childhood sexual abuse. With more time than ever to think and reflect on life, it is likely experiences of child abuse will come to the fore of our minds.

We know from our work on the Advocacy team many people reach a point when they want to explore what they can do about their experience of child sexual abuse. In Ireland there is no time restriction on reporting child abuse to the police, unlike countries such as the United States where there is a statute of limitations.

But we know making the decision to report to the Gardaí is not that straight forward. The shame of a secret like childhood sexual abuse creates inner turmoil for people especially at the prospect of being judged or blamed for what happened. Most of the people we meet have second guessed themselves for years and battle the fear of not being believed. People will often have come to believe they brought what happened on themselves. 

At the best of times talking to a Garda can make us nervous, never mind if deep down you feel like you are to blame for what happened. Logic goes out the window and self-blame takes over. A client once described making a statement to Gardaí like confessing a crime. On one level we know a child is powerless to stop sexual abuse, but people default to a deeply ingrained emotional response of feeling guilty and responsible. This highlights the need for professional support and an opportunity to talk through these thoughts and worries.

High on the list of questions we are commonly asked are concerns about privacy, the impact on family and how long the process takes. Our Advocacy team are here to answer your questions and provide you specialist support. The team have a wealth of experience and aim to provide clear information in a sensitive way. We can put you in touch with the Gardaí or liaise with the Gardaí or Tusla on your behalf. We can give you a space to talk through any concerns or fears. 

We are here to offer support at all the different stages, from the outset when someone is deciding to make a complaint to Gardaí through to court, preparing impact statements and post court.

Our primary focus is to support you in dealing with the complex fallout of sexual violence. 

We have seen how movements like #metoo challenge the shame that sexual abuse creates. For many people disclosing their abuse is a step towards handing that shame back where it belongs.

In taking that step to report to Gardaí or Tusla survivors are in a way asking society to take responsibility for that shame and the harm caused by sexual violence. 

You can contact us through our website or leave a phone message at 01 6624070 and one of our team will be back to you.  

Deirdre Kenny

Advocacy Director