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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.6: “I had a deep sense of loneliness”

23. Some victims and survivors described a prevailing sense of loneliness in their childhood. As adults, victims and survivors reflected on whether loneliness made them more vulnerable to sexual abuse, as they lacked love and affection. Eliza said: “I was looking for attention … for someone to want me”.[1] Reuben felt that the boys who sexually abused him exploited his loneliness: “I was lonely, not popular, at school … I wanted to get friends and they took advantage of me”.[2]

24. Loneliness was commonly experienced by victims and survivors whose parents were absent or not able to care for them. Olivia’s father worked long hours and her mother was preoccupied caring for her siblings. Although she understood why she was left to her “own devices”, Olivia said “I felt very lonely and abandoned”.[3] Beth spoke about being left alone to deal with her mother’s very poor mental health following the death of her father. When an older man approached her, Beth felt like she finally had someone who she could speak to: “He came across as very understanding and supportive … I felt like I had someone I could turn to”.[4]

25. Victims and survivors who grew up in institutions often felt lonely as children. LA-A158 said that she was “very isolated” at her children’s home in the 1950s–1960s.[5] Conall described his boarding school in the 1960s as “a place of fear and loneliness” where children were strictly controlled.[6] One Truth Project participant described their feelings about being placed in a custodial institution: “they might as well put you on Mars”.[7] Danni said that she was “homesick and lonely” at boarding school in the 1980s and felt that this made her more vulnerable to sexual abuse.[8] RS-A6 attended a residential special school in the 2000s and said that he felt “trapped”, “hundreds of miles away” from anyone he knew.[9]

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