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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.4: “Their sensitivity and empathy”

11. Some victims and survivors reflected on the features of support services which helped them to cope with the impact of child sexual abuse.

12. The value of specialist help from professionals who “have been trained … in sexual abuse” was often mentioned.[1] Jessie described a positive experience of being supported by a specialist sexual abuse support charity. The staff were well trained and focussed on helping her to cope and move forward.[2]

13. Often victims and survivors said that counselling allowed them to share their experiences of child sexual abuse in a safe way with a non-judgemental individual. NO-A51 said that counselling allowed him to work with a “person who is not going to judge me for the things that have happened to me”.[3]

14. Others described how being taken seriously and being shown empathy supported their recovery journey. Olivia said that for her the most important thing was “making the person feel believed. Being sympathetic and allowing them the time to open up”.[4] Child victims and survivors also said that support services that accepted and believed them helped them feel less isolated.[5]

15. Some victims and survivors had positive experiences of support groups. A sense of solidarity was commonly described as an important aspect of this form of support. Laura attended a course with other victims and survivors; she felt that it is “best to be in a group where people understand you completely”.[6] Another victim and survivor, who set up a group for people from “different BME communities”, said: “Peer empowerment is so important. We’re able to come together once a month, and able to empower and encourage each other”.[7] A number of male victims and survivors felt that connecting with other men who were sexually abused as children helped them:

To describe to a group of other men … and see them hear that in a very accepting and non-judgemental way, was probably one of the most powerful experiences of my life.[8]

Nic, Support services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse research participant
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