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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Final report

C.2: “I became a punch bag”

4. Victims and survivors sometimes described growing up in violent environments in which sexual abuse accompanied, or was preceded by, physical abuse.

5. Some victims and survivors experienced violence at the hands of their parents. Eva described her family as seemingly “respectable and middle class”, but at home her father physically abused her from a young age.[1] She recalled trying to stay awake at night with her back against her bedroom door, as she believed that her father might kill her. As a very young child, Nico would hear his older sibling screaming from their parents’ bedroom. When he was five years old he found out why: “I guess that my father felt five years was old enough to whip”.[2] From that point, Nico was regularly violently beaten by his father: “My only relief was when he was whipping my sibling, he wasn’t whipping me”.[3]

6. Others said that adults responsible for their care had “free rein” in institutions and appeared to be able to do as they pleased with the children.[4] One Truth Project participant described being “dehumanised” by the heavy physical punishments administered at her children’s home in the 1960s.[5] Another individual, CM-A2, recalled being wrongly punished for having stolen an apple from his orphanage’s apple tree in the late 1950s:

It was a ritualised punishment, dragged out in excruciating detail to maximise my panic and humiliation … The pain from this beating made me nearly pass out.[6]

CM-A2, Child migration programmes investigation

7. Victims and survivors often said that those abusing them appeared to derive pleasure from inflicting pain on children. Tayla recalled that her mother “seemed to enjoy dishing out punishments”.[7] RC-A154 described repeated physical abuse in the 1970s by a member of school staff “known for his sadistic wrath”: “He would beat me every week, or every other week, for no reason at all … He had no reason to dislike me”.[8] CS-A371 said that the man who sexually exploited her was “violent” and that he would “hit me and laugh about it”.[9]

8. Victims and survivors who grew up in violent environments reflected on how it influenced their perception of sexual abuse. The woman who ran the children’s home in which Deshawn lived was extremely violent. When he was first sexually abused, Deshawn said that he did not think of it as “something terrible” because his sexual abuser was less violent than the woman who ran the children’s home.[10]

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