Child sex abuse survivors back Limerick charity’s funding appeal

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Colm O'Brien, Anna Chappell, Caoilainn Stafford, Emer O'Neill and Emma Walsh at the launch of CARI’s fundraising appeal.

THREE sisters who endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of their father have come out in support of a Limerick-based charity that helps children who have been sexually abused.

Joyce, June and Paula Kavanagh, who were sexually abused by their father Patrick in their Dublin home on a daily basis, are seeking public support for an emergency fundraising appeal by Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) as its waiting list doubles to its longest in its 33 year history.

Established in 1989, CARI provides an average of 4,600 hours of therapy a year to children up to the age of 12 who present with sexually harmful behaviour. It operates a national careline and provides parental support services for non-offending parents.

The charity receives funding from Tusla for its professional, child-centered therapy, support and advice services, but says it is not enough and estimates it will take five years to clear the list if it cannot fund and staff its service adequately.

Speaking ahead of the fundraising launch, the Kavanagh sisters said Government inaction on the issue of child sexual abuse will store up huge societal issues unless proper funding is provided to support victims who currently face a waiting time of five years to access services.

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“The abuse we suffered was absolutely horrifying and it is horrifying for us to think of children suffering today. Victims are speaking out more today, but that bravery is stymied by a glaring hole in funding. It perpetuates the vicious cycle as hurt people, hurt people”.

“We are asking the public to not only support CARI’S emergency fundraising appeal through donating as much as possible but also to put pressure on the Government to do the right thing by our children, immediately.

“Let them know that they are elected to put the interests of the people first and their inaction will not be tolerated any longer. Let our voices be heard in the next election. These are our children, and they need our help today”.

Paula, June and Joyce who are supporting the CARI appeal.

CARI General Manager Colm O’Brien said that the charity’s waiting list more than doubled in 2020 from 92 to 198 and they now have 254 children waiting to access vital services.

“While each case and family is different, it generally takes a family one year to go through our therapy process, and so it will take us five years to clear the list and that’s not taking into account the new referrals made weekly,” he explained.

“We are seeking to raise €100,000 in 100 Days. We know that times are difficult for people with higher living costs but we are asking as many people as possible to give as much as possible.

“CARI is currently dependent on, and grateful for, State funding from Tusla but our waiting list is growing beyond the remit of Tusla and we need to find other income sources as a matter of urgency.

“We are running to stand still and we can’t continue like this, the issue is just too serious,” Mr O’Brien declared.