For the past 6 years I have worked as an Advocacy Officer with One in Four. Prior to that I worked in An Garda Siochana for many years, years that saw huge change take place in Ireland. These were years that saw institutions wield great power and influence over society who often didn’t want to hear about it and frequently didn’t want to listen.

My transition from the Gardai to working in One in Four provided challenges and rewards. Coming from a background of spending decades in a public service whose primary function is the protection of life and property to the investigation of crime, I found myself in different worlds viewing life from a different lense.

There is a difference between the roles, coming from a role primarily of interviewing to one of listening, from being organisationally indoctrinated to a role free from political or religious bias. From a role of viewing an individual as an injured party, (complainant) to engaging with a survivor. A role where finding facts / evidence was the primary objective were at times the key witness morphed into just being part of the case, to a role of empathy, trust, belief in helping others to deal with ongoing challenges of coping with sexual abuse.

Disclosing sexual abuse is a complex decision for survivors to make which often takes a long time to process and is neither easy nor straightforward to report. The role of an advocacy officer is to support client’s individual needs. This often includes exploring and navigating through the various options such as providing information, explaining and navigating through the minefield of the Criminal Justice Process from the reporting stage right up to court accompaniment and all in between.

We provide access and support in consulting with a solicitor to explore an alternative civil law action which may be possible by providing a guide to the Civil Process. With regard to Tusla we provide support and information to clients who wish to engage with Tusla, while also providing accompaniment to Tusla meetings.  We also provide support in other possible services such as complaints procedures, information around making Freedom of Information applications, corresponding with Councils regarding housing issues and more.

These are unprecedented and uncertain times and it is difficult not to become overwhelmed by all that is going on in the news at the moment.

If you do need support, we can be contacted on our website or leave a phone message on 01 66 2040.