10:19am Tuesday 15th May 2012
By Mark Chandler
HIDDEN away in Catford is an organisation that has helped victims of sexual abuse - a crime affecting one in four British adults.
According to the workers at One in Four, counselling for people who have suffered sexual abuse is now required more than ever.
Volunteer director Linda Dominguez said: "The need is so great and it's growing. Not just in Lewisham but in its neighbouring boroughs and beyond."
Indeed, for many people struggling to cope with the effects of abuse, counselling can be one of the only ways out of a vicious cycle which sees lives ruined.
She said: "We've got a client who's now working, come off their anti-depressants and say they couldn't have done it without our support - that's a great testimony to our work.
"People need to take note of this. It's not anti-depressants that are needed, it's getting to the route of the problem and confronting all of those anxieties."
One in Four, named after a startling NSPCC statistic of the number of people in this country who have been abused, has been running since 1999, offering long-term, low cost counselling.
Operational since 1999 and with 25 volunteers seeing 100 people every week, the Bromley Road charity says the service it offers is vital, especially as a complex trauma like childhood abuse - the charity's main focus - is likely to lead to significant problems later in life, from anxiety and depression to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Ms Dominguez said: "Some people use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. More often than not people won't have fulfilling relationships because their view of a loving relationship is skewed.
"Often they ended up with mental health issues like depressions and struggling to cope with anger."
Financial cuts have affected its work - a helpline described as a "lifeline between sessions" closed last year after the Home Office withdrew funding.
But the core services are still there - advice, therapy and education, along with advocacy work to help people prosecute their abusers and even two self-help books for victims.
A newly-established hardship fund with the help of the South London and Maudsley Trust looks set to extend their help further.
Ms Dominguez said: "Our youngest client is 16, our eldest is 80. We see males and females.
"What we can offer just isn't available anywhere else."
To find out more call 020 8697 2112 or visit oneinfour.org.uk
"I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and depression. I also displayed severe self-harming behaviour and had made 10 suicide attempts in the two years prior to referral to One in Four.
"I had been in and out of mental health services for the previous 10 years.
"I was able to access specialized relational psychotherapy for £3 per week. This provided me with the essential space in which for the first time in my life I could begin to open up and be listened to by an experienced therapist.
"The sexual abuse I suffered happened many years earlier.
"I was feeling robust enough after one year of therapy to report these crimes to the police.
"After 20 months I felt strong enough to leave therapy and was in a loving relationship for the first time in my life. I no longer had recourse to mental health services and was no longer on medication."
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