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Victims and survivors call for more open conversation on child sexual abuse

28 October 2021

Victims and survivors have described their hopes for a more open conversation on child sexual abuse within society, and a culture where they are not afraid to talk about their experiences.

Speaking to the Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, survivors described the lifelong impacts of the abuse, how they hope to help others by sharing their account, and the barriers they faced in coming forward.  Victims and survivors who would like to share their experience with the Truth Project can do so in writing until 31 October 2021.

Keyleigh says ‘Ignorance and silence enable abuse. Not talking about it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Education and conversation about abuse can help change that’.

The Inquiry has today (28 October) published a further 70 accounts shared with its Truth Project, which for over six years has provided an opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences and put forward suggestions for change. Today the Inquiry will also publish its latest quarterly statistics, providing an update across all areas of its work including public hearings and research, as well as illustrating the Inquiry’s engagement with victims and survivors over time.

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

The man who sexually abused Flora terrified her by threatening that her family would be hurt if she told anyone.

Victims and survivors told the Truth Project about the barriers they faced in coming forward, describing fears of stigma, not being believed, or simply not knowing how to describe what was happening to them. Many spoke 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 some cases, the effects have lasted decades.

Jon-Jay believes that lack of openness adds to the confusion and shame that victims and survivors continue feeling. He comments that for those who have experienced child sexual abuse, ‘it’s often the first experience you are likely to have had of any kind of sexual touching. I think that carries on through your life’.

These accounts also describe changes that survivors hope for, such as greater education, improving societal understanding and more open conversations about the effects of child sexual abuse. Many said that by sharing their account, they hoped to help others who had been through a similar experience.

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