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



May wants children to know that sexual abuse can happen within a ‘family’ and not just with strangers

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

From a very young age May was sexually abused on numerous occasions, often in her home. This made her vulnerable to more abusers, one of whom was another child.

Her attempt to tell a member of staff at school what was happening was not met with an effective response. This added to her feeling that she was not safe anywhere.

The abuse at home was perpetrated by a man called Mark, who was May’s father or stepfather – she chooses to not specify which. On some occasions, he took her to a flat and involved other adults in the abuse; May thinks there were about six perpetrators, one of whom was a woman.

The sexual abuse began with Mark touching her and making her touch him, while referring to this as ‘a game’. It progressed to sexual assault and rape. May says the abusers were often violent – she was sometimes threatened with a knife and there were times when they placed a pillow over her face to suffocate her. The sexual abuse was filmed and photographed and May says she was shown pornography while the perpetrators sexually abused her. May was bought presents by one of the abusers and ‘forced to do things.’ 

On one occasion, May managed to escape from the flat where she was being abused. She ran naked downstairs and knocked on the door of a neighbour but she was taken back to Mark and the other perpetrators. She says she ‘was badly hurt’ by them for trying to escape.

One day at primary school, May told a staff member that she was bleeding from her bottom and that Mark had hurt her. The staff member cleaned May up and gave her fresh underwear but did not take any further action. May did not feel safe at school or anywhere else.


While she was at primary school, May was also sexually abused by another pupil. This began when she was about five years old and continued for around two years. She believes that the boy was himself sexually abused at home and that he was acting out some of what he saw with her. He inserted his fingers and objects into May. 

When May was about 11 years old, she was ‘befriended’ online by an adult male who presented himself as a child. The abuser became aggressive and asked her to send indecent images to him. The online abuse continued for about two years.

May adds that she has suffered further sexual abuse but does not want to talk about it.

The sexual abuse she has suffered in childhood has made her frightened of men. She says she does not have a friendship group and feels ‘a disconnect’ with her peers. She needs to be close to her mum and her aunt at all times.

May has recently engaged in therapy and attends a group for other victims and survivors which she finds helpful. She has also commenced an education course and hopes to work with children in the future.

She feels strongly that it’s important children understand that sexual abuse is often carried out by people known to the child. She also wants it to be understood that ‘kids can do it to other kids’.


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