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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Support services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse

Introduction

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (‘the Inquiry’) was established in 2015 to consider the extent to which state and non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from child sexual abuse in England and Wales. At the heart of the Inquiry’s work is understanding the experiences of victims and survivors themselves. This research, which was carried out by independent research consultants Broome|Gekoski in conjunction with the University of Hertfordshire, was commissioned by the Inquiry specifically to learn more about child sexual abuse victims and survivors’ views and experiences of support services.

Child sexual abuse is prevalent, with 7.5% of adults aged 18–74 years having reported experiencing child sexual abuse in England and Wales before the age of 16 (Office for National Statistics, 2020). Experiencing child sexual abuse can have various short and long-term impacts, including physical and mental health problems, socio-economic issues, effects on relationships, religious/spiritual impacts, and vulnerability to re-victimisation (Fisher et al., 2017). To cope with these impacts, victims and survivors may need the help of statutory and voluntary support services. However, very little research has been carried out regarding their experiences of support systems (Chouliara et al., 2012). This research aims to address that knowledge gap.

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