Children & Young People News

Child sexual abuse survivors call for honest conversations about impact of abuse

Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have described how they hope to raise awareness of the significant and long lasting impact that abuse can have on someone’s life.

Speaking to the Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, survivors described the barriers they faced in coming forward, how they hope to help others by sharing their account, as well as the lifelong effects of the abuse they experienced.

On the 29th October the Inquiry published a further 80 accounts shared with its Truth Project, which provides an opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience and put forward recommendations for change. Today the Inquiry will also publish its latest quarterly statistics, providing an update across all areas of its work including public hearings and research.

Survivors who would like to share their experience with the Truth Project can do so in writing, over the phone or by video call. To protect the wellbeing of participants, the Inquiry has had to make some changes to the way in which we deliver in-person sessions. Further information on these changes can be found here.

Survivors described abuse taking place in residential care homes, sports settings and religious communities. They talk about having nobody to talk to about what was happening, those in authority turning a blind eye or when they were able to report abuse, they were encouraged to stay silent, ignored or threatened.

Olga did not speak about the abuse she suffered. She says it would have been impossible for her to say what was happening to her. “This stuff is unspeakable.”

Within days of arriving at the children’s home Nige was raped by a care worker. When he tried to report this to other staff, he was called a liar and punched. Staff also threatened to stop him going on home leave and this made him afraid to complain again. Staff in a children’s home were also physically and psychologically abusive to Lyndon. He was beaten, punched and thrown down the stairs. They threatened to hurt his mum and put him in prison.

Victims told the Truth Project about the detrimental impact the abuse has had across all aspects of their lives including relationships, education, their career, as well as physical and mental health. In many cases, survivors said that the effects lasted decades.

Although it is several decades since she was abused, Kirstie says “It still feels very new, and I hate that. I’m sad for the person I could have been…I don’t want to be me.”

These accounts also describe changes that survivors hope will help others, such as greater education, improving societal understanding, and more open conversations around the effects of child sexual abuse. Many said that by sharing their account, they hoped to help others who had been through a similar experience.

Edel Harris





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