It has clearly become quieter around the topic of sexual abuse. But now it is again pushing with power on the agenda. A day after the Jesuits' final report, the federal government unveiled a new nationwide hotline for abuse victims.
Victims of sexual abuse have been able to call the hotline since Friday (28).05.2010) seek advice and help from a telephone counseling service set up by the federal government. The federal government's commissioner for abuse, Christine Bergmann, launched the telephone helpline in Berlin. A total of 65 experts take the calls of those affected or their relatives.At present the telephone is switched on 30 hours per week, so Bergmann further. But depending on demand, counseling hours could be extended or shortened. Bergmann pointed out that she had taken into account the experience of the Catholic Church's hotline when setting up the contact point. Abuse commissioners also launch their own homepage this afternoon. The contact point should give those affected the opportunity to talk about the injustice done to them, according to the abuse commissioner. Their reports, all of which would be treated anonymously, should help formulate concrete demands to politicians. The experts are supposed to refer callers to further help, but they do not provide therapeutic or legal advice themselves, Bergmann said. The office of the government commissioner was created in March after hundreds of cases of sexual violence against children and adolescents in church and other educational institutions became known. So far, she has received about 500 reports by mail, and just as many by e-mail, the former federal family minister said. More men than women have come forward. Most were abused in institutions, especially those of the Catholic Church, Bergmann says. On the basis of the accounts heard so far, she is already pleading for serious consideration of lifting the statutes of limitations. The Ulm physician Jorg M. Fegert, who evaluates the calls scientifically, said the contact point offers the socially unique chance to ask those affected and to make a political difference. But none of the callers was questioned. He announced that initial experiences would be reported in August.
Experiences of the Bishops' Conference With regard to the church hotline, the German Bishops' Conference speaks of a huge wave of callers, which is now slowly leveling off to the previously expected normal level. According to Andreas Zimmer, head of the counseling services division at the diocese of Trier, more than 20 have so far been.000 calls registered. 6.000 people would have sought contact; there were more than 2.200 counseling sessions and another 160 online counseling sessions. Exact figures on how many of the callers were victims of mistreatment or sexual abuse in church institutions are not yet available. "Initially, an estimated three-quarters of callers were victims or their relatives," Zimmer estimates. In the course of the past few weeks, however, the number of joke calls and general complaints about the church has increased sharply. In the meantime, the number of calls is also dropping significantly: while the advisers took around 200 calls per four-hour shift in the first few weeks, the number is now down to 20 to 30.
Clarification among Jesuits Further clarification on the subject of abuse was provided by the Jesuits: The provincial of the German Jesuits, Father Stefan Dartmann, presented the final report on the abuse cases in the order in Munich on Thursday – together with the abuse commissioner Ursula Raue. The "Corner Table," created in reference to the German government's "Round Tables," of former students of Germany's four Jesuit high schools, is scheduled to meet Saturday in Berlin with representatives of Jesuit. Among others, Provincial Dartmann will be present from the side of the Order, as well as his designated successor Stefan Kiechle and the rectors of the Berlin Canisius College, Klaus Mertes, and of the College of Saint Blasien, Johannes Siebner.