The Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Hon Lowell Goddard DNZM is today announcing the start of the Inquiry’s Truth Project Pilot in Liverpool. She will visit organisations supporting victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to talk about the Truth Project and to hear about their hopes for how the Inquiry can provide an opportunity for victims and survivors to share their experiences.
The Truth Project will allow victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience with the Inquiry during a private session with a member of the Inquiry or via a written statement.
Inquiry chair Hon. Lowell Goddard DNZM said:
“I would like to thank the Merseyside Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre and Stepping Stones North Wales for meeting with me today. The work of organisations such as these is incredibly important in helping support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. I am grateful for the time they have taken today to talk to me about their work and about some of the challenges faced by those whom they support.
It brings home to me the importance of the work of the Inquiry in identifying organisations and institutions which have failed in their duty to protect children from sexual abuse. And it highlights that this Inquiry must, as I have said before, shine a light on the failings of organisations and institutions across the breadth of England and Wales - and not simply within the Westminster context.
Next week, here in Liverpool the first phase of the Truth Project that I announced in July will begin. The Truth Project will enable victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to contribute to the work of the Inquiry. It will help us gain a better understanding of the patterns of abuse, and will assist in explaining why many crimes went unreported and undetected for so long, often leaving other children at risk of abuse in later years. Next week, we are running a pilot for the Truth Project which will see us - for the first time - opening our doors to victims and survivors and inviting them to share with us their experiences of child sexual abuse. I have no doubt how informative and how important these sessions will be in enabling us to shape the full Truth Project, which we aim to have fully up and running in the New Year. I am grateful to all of those who have come forward so far offering to share their experience with us; your input is of huge importance to the Inquiry. For those who have not yet come forward, I urge you to do so- whatever your city, town or village, regardless of how big or how small. If you have suffered, because any organisation within England or Wales has failed in its duty to protect you as a child from sexual abuse, we want to hear from you.”
Daniel Wolstencroft from the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) of the Inquiry, who accompanied the Chair on her visit to Liverpool said:
“The Victim and Survivors Consultative Panel have been working with Inquiry staff to ensure the Truth Project process is as sensitive and supportive as possible to the needs of victims and survivors. For victims and survivors this is a vital element of the Inquiry. For too long, too many people have suffered in silence. But through the Truth Project, victims and survivors can at last have their voices heard and, most importantly, will not have their experiences questioned or cross-examined. We would encourage anyone who is a victim or survivor of child sexual abuse and who wants to share their experience with the Inquiry to contact the Inquiry helpline or website.”
Launching the Truth Project pilot, the Inquiry Chair met with organisations already providing support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
Merseyside Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (RASA) Manager Jo Wood said:
“Everyday RASA work with the victims and survivors of sexual violence, providing counselling and specialist support to help people recover. We know that the experience of child sexual abuse affects people for the rest of their lives. It can be incredibly difficult for anyone to share an experience of sexual abuse - whether it happened recently or a long time ago. It’s a really important part of the Independent Inquiry that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have the opportunity to share their experiences but equally important for organisations like ours that they also get given access to the appropriate support before, during and afterwards. We look forward to working with the Inquiry and its Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel to make sure the sharing of experience happens in as sensitive and supportive a way as possible.”
Stepping Stones Director Joy Dyment said:
“Stepping Stones provides counselling and specialist support to victims/survivors of child sexual abuse across north Wales. And we know from our work over many years how much support victims and survivors need in order to share their experiences and bring perpetrators to justice. The victims and survivors we work with tell us how important it is to be able to tell someone what has happened to them and to be believed. The Truth Project element of the Independent Inquiry will hopefully give that opportunity to many more people who have, until now, been living silently under the shadow of child sexual abuse.”
Watch our video on the Truth Project.