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‘I am still alive ... I am a survivor ... this is why I am speaking to you’ Child sexual abuse survivors hope to help others by sharing experiences

28 April 2020

Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have said they hope to help others by sharing their experience. 

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

The Inquiry has today (28 April) 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. This week the Inquiry will also publish its latest quarterly statistics, providing an update across all areas of its work including public hearings and research. 

To protect the well being of survivors of child sexual abuse from the COVID-19 outbreak, participants who would like to share their experience with the Truth Project can do so in writing, or via email. You can also register your interest in a face to face Truth Project session. These will resume when it is safe to do so. More information about how to share in writing can be found on the Truth Project website.

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

For several years [Eve] was sexually abused by older children in the home. Instead of protecting her, the staff looked the other way, and at times were complicit in the abuse.

They talked about the barriers they faced in coming forward, describing fears of stigma, not being believed, or wanting to protect those closest to them.

Ebrah moved from southwestern Asia to the UK when she was a small child. She feels concerned that her mother would not be able to cope with the community knowing that her daughter had been abused.

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. 

Caroline describes how the abuse still affects her after more than 60 years. She feels anger and sometimes questions herself about why she didn’t stop it. 

These accounts also describe changes that survivors hope will help others, such as greater awareness of the impact of child sexual abuse and a change in attitudes towards survivors. Many said that by sharing their account, they hoped to help others who had been through a similar experience.

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