Belfast Telegraph

Quarter 'abused by another child'

Almost a quarter of sex abuse survivors who were attacked below the age of 13 were targeted by another child, a new study has found.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) revealed the startling statistic affected 23% of child abuse victims it supported as it launched its review of work last year.

The report revealed 91% of sex abusers knew the person they targeted, 14% of perpetrators were under 18 and 61% of survivors aged 13 to 17 had been raped.

The network said 32,026 contacts were made to its helplines in 2013 and 2,467 people took up counselling and support services.

The review also revealed that 7% of survivors attending the network's 15 centres were children.

Staff and volunteers from the network accompanied 603 people to a range of different services including sexual assault treatment units, the Garda and PSNI during the course of last year.

While the RCNI called for an urgent, satisfactory response to address the needs of survivors of sexual violence, it also noted 57% of abuse survivors who reported to the Garda said they were treated sensitively.

Dr Cliona Saidlear, RCNI acting director, said appropriate responses to survivors must be a priority for the whole of Government.

"To do this, we must have the best possible understanding of patterns and nature of sexual violence, in order to inform the approach to service provision for survivors, as well as in challenging the stereotypes and inaccurate, damaging societal attitudes that exist regarding all aspects of rape and sexual abuse," she said.

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan described the report as an invaluable aid in the ongoing fight against sexual crime.

"We want to ensure that victims of sexual crime are treated with compassion and empathy, and can have the confidence that they will be taken seriously, supported and a thorough investigation is undertaken," she said.

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