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Truth Project concludes after six years

1 November 2021

The Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, has now come to a close. More than 6,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have come forward to share their accounts.

For six years, the Truth Project has given victims and survivors a safe and supportive opportunity to share their experiences and put forward suggestions for change. It closed at the end of October so that all of the accounts shared could be used to inform the Inquiry’s Final Report, due to be published next year.

When Carlie heard about the Truth Project, she saw it as an opportunity to do something positive. She says ‘I can’t do anything about the past now, but if I can do something to prevent this happening in the future, I have a duty to do that’.

The Truth Project began as a pilot in Liverpool in November 2015, with all victims and survivors being invited to share their experiences from early 2016. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, and in-person sessions were suspended, victims and survivors were still able to engage with the Truth Project on the telephone, via video call and in writing. 

Dru Sharpling, Inquiry Panel member and head of the Truth Project, said:“The courage of the thousands of victims and survivors who have taken part in the Truth Project over the last six years cannot be overstated; we are tremendously thankful to everyone who has come forward. The experiences victims and survivors have generously shared are pivotal in making changes to protect children from child sexual abuse in future.” 

The experiences shared with the Truth Project have formed the basis of some of the Inquiry’s research into areas including schools, residential care, religious institutions, sport, healthcare and custodial institutions, providing an in-depth insight into victims and survivors’ experiences within specific settings. 

This research has run alongside the regular Truth Project dashboard publications, which have provided a key overview of accounts shared. Our most recent dashboard found that of the 5,440 accounts so far analysed:

  • 88 percent described an impact on their mental health, with over a third reporting depression

  • Just over two thirds did not tell anyone about the sexual abuse at the time it was happening

  • 45 percent reported an illness or condition that affects their day-to-day life

  • One in 10 were talking about an experience of child sexual abuse for the first time when they spoke to the Truth Project

A number of the accounts shared have been published on the Inquiry's website, helping to amplify the voices of victims and survivors and bringing the impact of their experiences into the public consciousness. The Inquiry’s Interim Report says of cultural change:

‘The Inquiry considers that children ‒ and adult victims and survivors of child sexual abuse ‒ will be better protected and supported if society is prepared to discuss the issue openly and frankly.’

The accounts shared have played a significant part in helping to encourage this conversation within society, and drive a change in culture to dismantle the wall of silence which surrounds the subject of child sexual abuse. 

The Inquiry also recognised that access to the Truth Project was harder for some communities.  

Michael May, Head of the London Inquiry Office, said:“The Inquiry recognised significant additional barriers to participating in the Truth Project within some communities. We engaged with them directly to develop adaptations; these included an offer to participate in different languages; a service designed with and provided by deaf people using British Sign Language as well as augmented support and routes for neurodiverse people."

Every experience shared with the Inquiry has made a vital contribution to our work, helping us to build a clearer understanding of child sexual abuse and make changes to ensure the same failures don’t happen again. The accounts victims and survivors have generously shared with the Truth Project will go a long way toward helping to better protect children in future. 

 For help and support, you can access information on a range of organisations signposted on our support page.

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