Skip to main content

0800 917 1000 Open weekdays 9am to 5pm

Almost half of victims tell Inquiry they were under eight when sexual abuse began

22 October 2019

New research from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has found most victims and survivors who have come forward to the Truth Project were sexually abused by age 11 (79 percent), and almost half of victims (46 percent) were under eight when the abuse began. The Inquiry also heard that nearly half of all child sexual abuse (45 percent) is perpetrated by someone in the victim’s family. 

More than 4,000 survivors of child sexual abuse have now shared experiences with the Truth Project in England and Wales. Of these, 3,265 personal accounts have been analysed for research purposes. 

Today, the Inquiry is also publishing a further 80 Experiences Shared with the Truth Project. These accounts show that even when victims came forward to report abuse to those in authority, they were encouraged to stay silent, ignored or threatened. 

Victims were warned by those in authority, including the police and social services, that their accusations could ‘ruin’ the lives of perpetrators. Others were dismissed as ‘attention seekers’, or behaved badly at school, but the signs were not picked up by their teachers. 

86 percent of survivors told the Inquiry the abuse had a long term impact on their mental health, with over a third reporting depression (37 percent).

Chris Tuck, a member of the Inquiry’s Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel, said:

“I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, and I helped to design the Truth Project. It is a welcoming, supportive place where victims and survivors can share our experiences and put forward recommendations for change.

“If we are to protect future generations of children, we need to listen to those who have experienced abuse and learn from them about what went wrong, why it went wrong and what we can put in place to stop it going wrong in the future.” 

Drusilla Sharpling, head of the Truth Project, and a Panel member said:

“Thousands of victims and survivors have helped the Inquiry to understand the depth and breadth of the institutional failures that led to children being sexually abused.

“The information victims and survivors share with us are a vital part of the Inquiry’s work and will contribute to our final recommendations.”    

Survivors of child sexual abuse who would like to share their experiences in writing, over the phone or in person can get in touch with the Inquiry's Truth Project. Visit or email

Back to top