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Fifth of calls to crime helpline abuse related

Almost one-in-five cases being handled by a service to help victims of crime relates to childhood sexual abuse.

In total, more than 5,000 contacts were made between the National Crime Victims Helpline last year.

A 10pc increase was recorded among those who accessed the support by email and text, the helpline's annual report reveals.

There were 4,600 phone calls and more than 400 email and text contacts in 2013.

Most service users complained of robbery/burglary/theft (23pc), followed by assault (22pc).

Victims of childhood sexual abuse accounted for 19pc of the contacts, while the figure for rape/sexual assault was 7pc.

More women (63pc) than men (37pc) contacted the helpline. The majority of calls came from Dublin.

Helpline co-ordinator Michele Puckhaber said: "Even crimes that may appear 'minor', such as a theft, can have profound negative repercussions.

"Talking about the experience and receiving support and information can help relieve the suffering for many."

Retired district court judge Gillian Hussey, a director of the helpline, raised the issue of complaints to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission.

"[Our] volunteers quite often get calls from victims of crime who for one reason or another are dissatisfied with the way their case has been handled," Ms Hussey said.

dissatisfied

"They have made a complaint to GSOC and are then very dissatisfied because their complaint has been investigated by a serving superintendent or other member of An Garda Siochana.

"They are feeling further victimised that their complaint has not been investigated by an independent statutory body, and they have no confidence in the outcome of the investigation."

comurphy@herald.ie


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