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



Sinead says ‘If I had been asked “Is anyone hurting you?”, I would have told’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Sinead has disturbing memories that go back to a very young age. She remembers her father coming to the family home and beating her mother. 

Shortly after that, her family moved in with the man who became her stepfather; they shared the family home with him and his other children.

She recalls that she was due to spend some time with her real father and the night before she left, her stepfather anally abused her. After this, the abuse became a regular occurrence.

When she was nine years old, Sinead was taken into hospital as she was bleeding from her bottom. The doctors took her mother into a different room to talk to her, but no action was taken. Sinead believes the hospital staff should have done more if they suspected that she had been abused.

She began to run away from home regularly and at the age of 10 was sleeping in empty buildings. She says the police would find her and return her home.

She finds it difficult to understand why the police did not ask her the reason she was running away from home; she wonders if it was because she lived in a nice house and her stepfather was a well-respected man in the community.

Social services became involved in Sinead’s life when she was placed in care by her mother following the death of her stepfather. She was taken to live in a residential children’s home. She says that she felt safe while she was in care, but questions why social services, like the police, did not ask why she had been running away from home.

She did tell her social worker about the sexual abuse her stepfather had committed. Later, when she accessed her social care file, Sinead found that the social worker’s recording of her disclosure of sexual abuse questioned ‘Is this another one of Sinead’s fantasies?’

On one occasion she was placed in what she understood to be an assessment centre, but which was in fact a young offenders centre. Sinead still suffers from some of the medical procedures they carried out on her there.

Sinead speaks of the many scars she bears from her experiences. She says there were many missed opportunities to protect her from the sexual abuse she was subjected to and she was ‘so let down’ by social services.

She feels very strongly that professionals working with children who display behavioural changes should ask ‘Is anyone hurting you?’.  She believes she would have disclosed her abuse sooner if anyone had asked her that.

She says the abuse she suffered has affected every part of her life and the lives of her family. She has experienced depression and anorexia and is afraid to leave the house in the evenings by herself. She also needs the assurance of extra security measures in her home to feel safe. 

Sinead hopes that she can now finally close the door on the abuse that happened to her.

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