TRAUMATISED victims of sexual abuse and rape will be forced to cope on their own for the next month, when Rape Crisis Midwest closes its outreach centre in Ennis.
A funding shortage of €120,000 this year has meant the Ennis and Nenagh centres will close from Monday next until Monday, September 29.
Psychotherapist and counsellor, Anne Ginnane works in the Ennis centre and is very worried about the impact of the closure on her clients.
“I’ve spent a lot of time over the past four weeks preparing my clients for this closure. I’ve asked them how it’s going to affect them and I have worked on that with them. I’ve given them strategies. They can phone Rape Crisis in Limerick. They might get an answering machine and they’ll try to get back to them and help them with the limits they have.
“There is also the Samaritan 24-hour phoneline, if clients are suicidal and other referral phone numbers that I’ve made sure they have,” a clearly worried Anne said.
The closure of the centre will bring disruption to the lives of some of the people Anne supports, when the consistency and continuation of therapy is broken. While everyone is different, some will feel the loss more than others and she worries that they may feel alone, abandoned and isolated.
Rape Crisis Midwest has been operating in Ennis for the past decade and moved to Tracklands Business Park on Clonroad four years ago.
About 70% of people using the service suffered sexual violence as children or young adults and the remaining 30% have been abused or raped in their recent past. The Ennis outreach service supports women and men, aged 16 and over.
“When somebody has been sexually abused, their boundaries have been invaded and when someone comes to us, as therapists, we try to create good, healthy boundaries, to build a good relationship with them. When you start to build a therapeutic relationship, the client begins to feel safe and is then able to go into the impact of the abuse on their life. That’s very, very traumatic for them. They’re looking back as an adult on a child suffering all that abuse. They would be dealing with profound, deep feelings,” Anne said.
Typically, Anne meets with her clients on a weekly basis and sometimes twice a week.
“The reason we have week to week counselling is because the trauma is so deep and brings up such profound feelings that they’re not able to contain themselves any longer than maybe a week. It has to be weekly and sometimes we would see clients twice a week, especially if they’re suicidal. We need to ho hold them, to contain them and to teach them how to contain themselves. We’re the safe space and they can’t talk to anybody other than someone who is trained to work with them. It’s too traumatic to listen to,” she said.
While the Ennis centre will reopen at the end of September, its future remains uncertain.
“There is a threat next year if we don’t get funding but I have to say that people are very, very good to us. They’re really coming on board to support us. We’ve had a lot of donations from people and street collections and people can also donate online to Rape Crisis Miwest at www.rapecrisis.ie/fundraising_donations.html.
“There’s a lot more volunteers coming on board as well. Years ago there was a stigma attached to rape and sexual abuse. It’s dissipating now. People are not as embarrassed to stand up now and say ‘I want to help the Rape Crisis Centre’,” Anne concluded.