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Inquiry finds almost half of child sexual abuse survivors are disabled

30 January 2020

New research from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has found almost half of victims and survivors who have come forward to its Truth Project have an illness or condition that affects their lives.

More than 4,000 survivors have now shared experiences with the Truth Project in England and Wales. Of these, 3,646 personal accounts have been analysed for research. 

Nearly half (47 percent) of survivors described a condition that limits their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, including blindness, problems with hearing, mobility and memory.

Helping to build a fuller picture of the impact of childhood abuse, figures released earlier this month by the Office for National Statistics revealed that 7.5 percent of adults have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16, and those with a disability were twice as likely to have experienced sexual abuse than those without a disability (13.4 percent and 6.6 percent respectively.)

The Truth Project heard that almost all survivors who shared their account were impacted by the abuse, with over a third (38 percent) talking about depression, and almost one in 10 describing a physical injury as a direct consequence of the abuse.  

Today, the Inquiry is also publishing a further 80 accounts shared with its Truth Project. This includes Kayden, who was diagnosed with a physical and learning disability, and then sent to a boarding school where he was abused, and Orla, who can hear but was sexually abused in a Deaf school.

The Inquiry has developed the Truth Project to be accessible to individual needs, making reasonable adjustments to ensure that survivors with a disability can play a crucial role in preventing all children from being abused in future.

For example, the Inquiry has established a service for survivors who are Deaf or hard of hearing, providing dedicated sign language videos and the option to attend a private session with Deaf facilitators. 

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

“Speaking as a survivor of child sexual abuse, the Truth Project provided a safe and supportive place for me to share my experience, and help contribute to change. 

“I now live with PTSD, and physical pain related to mental distress, something which affects the way I live my life every day. If we are to protect children in the future, it’s important that we hear from everyone who has experienced abuse, to better understand the lasting impacts and help prevent it from ever happening again.” 

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 www.truthproject.org.uk or email share@iicsa.org.uk.

The full dashboard of statistics from the Truth Project is available here.

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