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How to share your experience

This Inquiry is investigating how organisations in England and Wales may have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. Our focus is on the failure of the organisation.

When we say the ‘failure of the organisation’, we mean you were abused on the organisation’s property or grounds, or you first came into contact with the person who abused you in an organisation, or someone from the organisation knew what was happening, or you told someone in authority (such as a social worker, teacher, priest or police officer) and nothing was done to stop the abuser.

When we say 'organisation' we mean a range of things. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Children's homes
  • Schools
  • Children's clubs such as sports or activity clubs
  • Youth detention centres
  • Churches or religious organisations
  • Media
  • The Armed Forces
  • Charities
  • Social services, the police, and other government run services or organisations
  • Or any similar institution.

Perhaps one or more of these examples apply to you. Or you may have suffered sexual abuse by a family member, or friend of the family, or even someone you didn’t know and, when you reported it, this was not responded to appropriately. This means that someone in authority failed to act on signs of abuse and that you were let down by an organisation who had a duty of care to protect you.

Whatever your experience, you can help our investigation by telling us what happened to you. We want to be as inclusive as possible in our Truth Project. If you want to share your experience, but are not sure whether this is within the scope of the Inquiry, please get in touch so that we can advise you.

Confidentiality

Your privacy is very important to us. Our Terms of Reference require us to ensure that all personal and sensitive information is safely stored, and made available only to those who need to see it. At the close of the Inquiry, all your information will be securely destroyed.

The Inquiry will keep your information confidential at all times and we have a legal ruling in force (called a Restriction Order) to enable us to do this. The only exception to this would be if the Inquiry needs to pass any information to the police, or where otherwise required by law.

What does it involve?

You need to take just four steps to share your experience.

1 Get in touch with us

Use our online form to get in touch. The form will ask you for some basic information about your experience and your preferred contact details.

2We'll contact you and ask how you'd prefer to share your experience

We'll respond within 15 working days and give you the choice of either sending us information about your experience, or telling us what happened in person (in a confidential one-to-one session).

3 Share your experience

You can choose how to tell us about what happened to you. You can tell us as much or as little as you want to about your experiences. It is okay if you can’t remember everything, or if there is anything you don’t want to share. You won’t be asked to prove anything you tell us. It’s important to us that you’re in control of what you share.

Send us information

You can tell us about what happened to you in an audio file, video, or in writing. You can post or email this to us. We’re happy to accept written documents or anything you would like to send us digitally. If you are unsure whether we will be able to accept a particular type of media please contact us for advice.

Private session

If you'd prefer a private session, you'll be invited to describe your experience to a member of the Inquiry at a location as convenient for you as possible. You can bring friends, family or others to support you. A trained professional will also be available for additional support should you want it. If you agree, we'll make an audio recording of what you tell us and then write up a summary.

Everything you tell us and anything you send us will be held securely. Your name will never be published or made public. You can also change your mind about how your information will be used at any point before our reports are published.

Passing information to the police

We have a duty to pass all allegations of child abuse to the police. We will not pass on your name and contact details if you do not wish us to, unless it is necessary to protect a child who is currently at risk of abuse. The Inquiry will first assess whether there is a child at risk of abuse and the police may make a second assessment before taking any action.

If you consent to the police having your personal details, a police officer or member of police staff may or may not contact you to discuss the information you have provided to the Inquiry. It could take a few days or weeks for the police to contact you.

4We take account of what you say

Your voice, and that of the many other victims and survivors who tell us about what happened to them, will help us shape our Inquiry Reports and research. We want to learn from your experience to better protect children from sexual abuse. This knowledge will be used in our reports, which will provide insight to the government and organisations on how to improve child protection. You will not be publicly identified in the Reports or anywhere else as part of the Inquiry process.

For a summary of these steps, read Truth Project - Sharing your experience: what to expect (pdf). The link opens in a new web page, but you can also print it off to read later if you prefer.


How we use your information?

Research

Unless you do not want us to, we will use the information about your experiences that you have provided to help us better understand child sexual abuse issues. This means that we may use your information to conduct research whilst the Inquiry is ongoing and to make recommendations to help protect children in the future. Some of our research reports will be published in written and online articles.

Anonymised summaries

We would also like to turn your experience into an anonymised summary. We may publish this summary alongside our reports. We will not include details about you or the institution(s) that you have told us about.

Have your say

After you have shared your experience you will also be given the opportunity to “have your say”. This means you can leave an anonymous message about your experience. We will publish these messages to help people understand the impact of child sexual abuse and to recognise why it is so important that we protect children in the future.

Investigations

After you have shared your experience you may also be invited to provide information to the Inquiry's investigations if your experience falls within scope of one of our case studies. If so, you will be you will be given a choice as to whether you would like to do this.

Your personal details will not be published, and we will make sure no-one is able to identify you from the research, anonymised summary, and have your say. The information that we collect will be kept private, and will be securely destroyed when the Inquiry is complete.

You can also change your mind about how your information will be used at any point before our reports are published.

If you would not like us to use your information in this way you can let us know in the following ways:


Before you begin

Before you get in touch with us to share your experience, you might want to think about whether this is the right time for you. It may also be helpful to get some support. Sharing what happened to you can be difficult or upsetting. A friend, relative, counsellor or helpline may help support you.

I am ready to use the online form to get in touch

Contact us

If you wish to ask a question about the Inquiry or if you have information to support our investigations please get in touch:

We aim to respond to all calls, emails and letters within 15 working days.

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