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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

H.2: “I haven’t sought support”

2. Victims and survivors who were able to access effective support when they needed it described this as being “invaluable”.[1] Despite this, many victims and survivors, including 64 percent of Truth Project participants, said that they had not sought support from others. Fewer male Truth Project participants had sought support than female participants (33 percent and 38 percent, respectively).

3. Some victims and survivors said that they struggled to admit to themselves or to others that they needed support. RS-A299 said that, despite “severe” post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, “there wasn’t anything in my eyes that needed to be fixed because there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong”.[2]

4. Stigma associated with mental health problems influenced some victims and survivors’ decisions not to seek help. Others described feeling that they should not “make a big fuss”.[3] Fear of speaking about child sexual abuse was another reason that victims and survivors did not feel able to seek help. Kerry said: “I don’t know if I’m brave enough” to seek support.[4]

5. Some victims and survivors reported feeling unable to ask for support due to fear or previous experience of homophobic or racist prejudice. One individual, who is LGBTQ+, said that there was an “added fear of homophobia” for them.[5] A member of the Victims and Survivors Forum who was racially abused at school said: “reaching out and asking for help from a country I felt was hostile towards me was almost impossible”.[6]

6. Victims and survivors who were sexually abused in the 1940s and 1950s commonly said that they had not sought therapeutic support because they did not believe it would be relevant or useful to them. Fred said that one of the reasons he had not sought support was because “I wouldn’t have thought it would be any psychological help to me”.[7] Overall, older Truth Project participants were less likely to report having sought support than those who grew up in the 1960s onwards (Figure H.1).

A bidirectional bar chart showing the percentage of victims and survivors who sought therapy or support for the sexual abuse they experienced as a child, by their age when participating in the Truth Project.

Long Description
Proportion of Truth Project participants who reported having sought therapy or support, by participant's age at the time of their Truth Project session
Did not seek, or did not discuss seeking, therapy/support Sought therapy/support
16-19 years 59% 41%
20-29 years 60% 40%
30-39 years 61% 39%
40-49 years 62% 38%
50-59 years 60% 40%
60-69 years 68% 32%
70-79 years 70% 30%
80+ years 87% 13%

Figure H.1: Proportion of Truth Project participants who reported having sought therapy or support, by participant’s age at the time of their Truth Project session*

* This analysis is based on Truth Project participants who, during their Truth Project session, discussed having sought therapy or support. Truth Project participants were not asked whether they had sought therapy or support. Therefore, it is possible that some participants who did not discuss seeking support may have sought support but chose not to speak about it during their Truth Project session.

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