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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

G.6: “It has affected me physically”

31. Child sexual abuse often had an impact on the immediate or long-term physical health of victims and survivors (including 34 percent of Truth Project participants). The most commonly reported physical health concerns were musculoskeletal issues, such as osteoporosis and hypermobility (12 percent of Truth Project participants); neurological issues, such as migraines, dementia, epilepsy and seizures (10 percent); issues of chronic pain or fatigue, including fibromyalgia (9 percent); and physical injury directly resulting from the child sexual abuse (8 percent).

32. Sexual abuse can cause serious physical harm to children. Some victims and survivors bled from their anus or vagina after being sexually abused. May was anally raped by a male family member which caused her to bleed.[1] Others mentioned extreme bruising. One Truth Project participant described looking in the mirror after he had been sexually abused:

I could not believe the injuries: the whole of my back from the top was black and blue … and it dripped blood where the skin had been broken”.[2]

Truth Project participant

33. It was very common for child sexual abuse to leave victims and survivors in “searing pain”.[3] Torze remembered waking up in the middle of the night with a boy on top of her. As he raped her she felt “extreme pain between her legs”.[4] Eleri was left in pain after her foster father raped her: “I remember struggling to lie comfortably”.[5] In some cases, injuries sustained during sexual abuse had a long-term impact on physical health. Stephanie said that she was physically damaged by child sexual abuse and as a result intimacy is difficult.[6] As an adult, Anne-Maria had to have a hysterectomy due to the injuries she sustained through being raped from a young age.[7]

34. Some girls became pregnant as a result of being raped. This was reported by 6 percent of female Truth Project participants. Some gave birth. LA-A327 recalled how she was “raped continuously” at her children’s home and gave birth at the age of 15.[8] Female victims and survivors who were physically as well as sexually abused sometimes experienced miscarriages. Danielle became pregnant twice following sexual abuse. She experienced two miscarriages as a result of violence inflicted by the young person who sexually abused her.[9]

35. Victims and survivors described how child sexual abuse led to disordered eating patterns. Marcia said that in her early teens she used food as a means of control, fluctuating between undereating and overeating. She wanted to change her physical appearance as she thought having a woman’s body was “dangerous for her”.[10] LA-A61 said that she uses food “as a punishment” and does not eat if she feels she has “done something wrong”.[11] RS-A345 described the impact on him and his classmates of being secretly filmed by a teacher while showering:

He suffered with sort of image problems … and then I think developed an eating disorder where … he lost a significant amount of weight in a very short period of time.[12]

RS-A345, Residential schools investigation
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