‘These people need help’
Victims of domestic, sexual and gender based abuse should have the same access to free psychological supports that perpetrators are given once in the prison system.
That’s according to the Mayor of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley who is calling on the State to provide free counselling and support to victims of abuse immediately after their court case ends.
During a recent meeting of Cork County Council, the Mayor read an email she received from a woman in her constituency who is a victim of abuse.
The email described how State support stopped immediately after the woman’s court case had finished leaving her to find her own counselling only to be met with long waiting lists of up to 18 months.
The woman said perpetrators of abuse crimes have access to a range of individual and group based therapeutic services while in prison.
She said: Victims like myself deserve better care than this from our Government. Also, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, rape and murder cases are being delayed for as much as two years and I believe this could be devastating to victims.” The Mayor asked that the council write to the Department of Health Minister Stephan Donnelly to ask that these supports be put in place ASAP.
She said Government should “step up to the mark” and provide support for these victims the minute the court case ends.
“These people need help. The State is letting a lot of those victims down, and I don't say that lightly,” said the Mayor. Independent Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan supported the Mayor’s motion and said he was surprised the supports were not already being provided. “This should be a given for victims. These abuses are some of the most horrific that can happen to anyone. They often say victims of this kind of abuse don't recover, they just learn to cope with it,” said Cllr O’Sullivan. Green Party Cllr and psychologist Liam Quaide added that the motion include a clause requesting psychological supports and counselling that are tailored to the needs of each individual. He said: “The services need, above all, much increased investment in staff recruitment. I strongly believe from my own clinical experience as a psychologist, that a crude calculous of therapy sessions does not reflect the reality of come people's needs. “I know that when counselling for survivors of institutional abuse was originally provided by the state in the ‘90s, the support was typically open ended and reflected the complexity of psychological difficulties experienced by some survivors.”