• One in Four Finds New Ways to Deliver Services
  • Work with Sex Offenders Continues During Covid
  • Long Waiting Lists - Concerns re Suicide Risk
  • Delays in Trials of Sexual Offences

2020 was an incredibly challenging year for One in Four.  We had to close our offices in March 2020 and to find ways to provide vital services to our vulnerable clients, men and women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.  The effects of child sexual abuse persist long after the abuse had stopped.  The shame, fear, distress and anger invade every aspect of a person’s life and suicide ideation is common.  Without expert psychotherapy, what would happen to our clients? We worried too that the sex offenders attending our prevention programme would relapse to offending behaviour without our intervention.  And what about our advocacy clients who had upcoming criminal trials when the courts closed?

CEO Maeve Lewis says: “We were able to move all our services online overnight.  Providing remote psychotherapy and prevention services was a totally new experience for staff and clients alike.  We worried that the trusting relationships that are at the core of good psychotherapy could not be replicated online.  A survey of clients at the end of 2020 told us that online therapy was a life line and even a life saver but the majority missed the more in-depth work of face to face therapy.  Others told us that they liked online therapy and would prefer to continue indefinitely.  And for some of our clients the complex trauma could not be supported online so we re-opened the office in a limited way in August.  A bonus was that online psychotherapy made our services accessible to people who live far from Dublin”. 

In 2020 we supported 172 clients through online individual and group psychotherapy.  51% of our clients had been abused in their own families.  We undertook 74 assessment meetings.  Of the people we met at assessment, 30% had attempted suicide at least once in their lives.

Maeve Lewis continues:  “Lockdown had a devastating impact on survivors of child sexual abuse.  Once the busyness of everyday life was removed, people had too much time to think about the past.  New clients reached out for the first time, telling us of increased distress, nightmares, flashbacks and suicide ideation.  By December we had 98 people on the waiting list for psychotherapy with waiting times of up to 18 months.  We are incredibly concerned for the safety of these people before we ever meet them.  With the support of Tusla we were able to employ a Waiting List Case Manager whose role is to provide crisis support to people on the waiting list.  This makes everybody safer”

In 2020 we worked with 53 sex offenders in individual and group settings.

Some of the offenders attending the programme are online offenders, viewing child abuse material on the Internet.  Transitioning to an online service for this group required careful consideration as we were concerned about a potential increased in risk.  We were reassured, however, by the depth and quality of work that was possible.

Our advocacy team supported 432 survivors in 2020, mainly with engaging with Gardaí and the criminal justice system and support with Tusla child protection notifications.  

Maeve Lewis continues: “Our clients were devastated when their court dates were cancelled due to the closure of the courts.  Our advocacy case managers provided essential supported on line and by phone.  Many of these clients do not have a new court date until 2022, putting their lives on hold.                                           Even in 2021 as the courts reopened, many people experienced further delays as cases were backed up. This is just not acceptable.”

The O’Malley Review of the Trial of Sexual Offences was published in August 2020 and its recommendations were immediately accepted by Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.  One in Four is participating in the implementation committees.  When fully implemented the changes envisaged in the criminal justice system should make a very positive difference to the experience of vulnerable survivors who engage in this system. 

Maeve Lewis ends:  “We could not have imagined at the beginning of 2020 the huge challenges we would face to ensure that survivors of child sexual abuse could still access the services they so desperately need.  Being creative and flexible in meeting those challenges ensured that we continued to provide that vital support and there has been a huge learning for the organisation.  However, we are still grappling with huge levels of demand that we do not have the resources to meet.  We need to face the truth that one in four Irish children are sexually abused and to properly resource child protection and psychotherapy services to ensure that every Irish child is safe and that every survivor has timely access to expert support”.

One in Four Annual Report 2020