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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



Adela says that people who have been through trauma may not have perfect recall

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Adela feels that she was failed by people in authority who should have protected her from abuse. 

She would like everyone to understand that people who have been through trauma may not have perfect recall.

Adela grew up in an outwardly respectable middle-class family. Her parents had professional jobs, and the family were committed Christians who were actively involved in the church. 

But from a young age, she was physically and emotionally abused by both her parents and her father sexually abused her. 

She knew about a telephone counselling service for children, and when she was eight years old she made an excuse to her mum that allowed her to walk to a local phone box and call them. 

Adela spoke about the emotional abuse by her mother, ‘to test the water’. The counsellor suggested she tell her father. She agreed but she knew this suggestion would not help her. 

Two weeks later she called again, saying she needed more help. This time the person she spoke to refused to put her through to a counsellor, saying she did not believe that Adela was eight. 

The physical, emotional and sexual abuse continued at home, with a lot of violence from her father. When Adela was 12, she told a local vicar about it, and he came to see her parents, but nothing changed.

She saw a GP and was treated in hospital for injuries caused by her father. When she was asked what had happened, she explained, but again no action was taken. A social worker who questioned her later said her accounts were not consistent. However, he did make a report to the police, who interviewed Adela, but she did not hear any more from them. 

Shortly after, Adela’s mother left her father, taking Adela and her brothers with her. However, their mother became more violent towards the children. 

Around this time Adela got drunk in the toilets at school, passed out and was treated by paramedics. A social worker was appointed to work with the family and Adela was taken into voluntary care.

She was fostered with a family some considerable distance away from her family home. When the social worker visited, she would ask repeatedly about the physical and emotional abuse at home. 

Adela realised that no one had understood that she had been sexually abused by her father, so she told the social worker, who notified the police. She was interviewed by the police but no one told her what happened next. 

After being in foster care for a while she was placed in a children’s home. When she was in her early teens she went to a party and was raped by a 17-year-old male. 

Staff from the children’s home reported it to the police, but she was so scared of the older boy that she said she had told him she was 16.

Adela has been diagnosed with PTSD. She finds it difficult to trust professionals and to form relationships and friendships. 

She feels strongly that trauma counselling should be available to all children who experience abuse. She also thinks that professionals who interview children and young people who have suffered trauma should be aware that it is normal that they will struggle to recall everything.

Adela emphasises that the police should ensure that children who report abuse are kept informed about the investigation.

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