Abuse Victims ‘Affected Mentally’

More than half of the sex abuse victims surveyed by a Northern Ireland charity said they had experienced mental health problems. More than a third said they had been sexually abused for at least six years. The survey was carried out by the Nexus Institute, which provides counselling for adult victims.

It showed that 59% suffered suicidal tendencies, depression or anxiety as a result of the abuse, but counselling had helped 95% of them to cope.

A spokesperson said: “It is evident from the research that as clients underwent counselling, they experienced a decrease in these issues and the reliance upon medication and alcohol as coping tools.”

In addition, 92% of the participants were female and the majority were aged between 35 and 64 years.

Some 38% of participants experienced sexual abuse for at least six year and most participants were referred by health professionals.

The survey said 95% of clients felt that their problems had improved immediately after receiving counselling and this sustained improvement continued throughout the following six months.

The spokesperson added: “Many participants stated that they would encourage others to undergo counselling at Nexus due to the positive outcomes such as increased confidence levels as well as less guilt, anger and self-blame.”

NEXUS is a voluntary organisation which helps people who have been sexually abused; it was established in 1984.

Its headquarters are in Belfast with four regional centres in Belfast, Londonderry, Enniskillen and Portadown and a number of outreach centres throughout the province.