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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.6: “It didn’t work for me”

22. Some victims and survivors found the services they accessed ineffective. In particular, the amount of support offered was often inadequate. Many described limits being placed on the number of therapy sessions available to them. Some victims and survivors said that this created pressure and did not enable them to build trust with the person providing support. One victim and survivor described how the professional who supported them “just wanted to do the prescribed six sessions” and “move on”.[1] Another said that the length of their support sessions was too short and as a result accessing support felt like “a waste of time really”.[2]

23. Victims and survivors described how positive experiences of support were undermined by an insufficient number of sessions. One victim and survivor spoke about meeting a “very, very good” counsellor who “helped a lot”.[3] However, they were only able to offer stints of six to eight weeks: “I wish there could have been more but I understand that resources were very limited”.[4] Edna described how the number of sessions she was offered was not enough time to trust someone or “scratch the surface”.[5]

24. Many victims and survivors said that they struggled to find services equipped with the specialist understanding to meet their needs. Some were turned away from services because counsellors did not have the “necessary tools[6] or felt psychologists were not “adequately qualified” to support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.[7] One Forum member described being stuck between providers:

My mental health difficulties put me in a catch-22. Child sexual abuse support organisations won’t support me because of that, and mental health support organisations won’t support me because of my child sexual abuse history.”[8]

Member of the Victims and Survivors Forum

25. Often victims and survivors wanted to access support services that were tailored. Women frequently said that they only wanted to speak to a female counsellor. Tynna described her disappointment at being allocated a male counsellor; she had such difficulty relating to him that she cancelled her support sessions.[9] Victims and survivors from minority ethnic groups described being reluctant to use support services which “do not look like yourselves” as “they will not be culturally aware of what’s going on for you, or they may not be able to comprehend”.[10] LGBTQ+ victims and survivors often said that they found it difficult to find support services which “show loudly and clearly that they are open and welcoming and understanding of LGBTQ+ people and their experiences”.[11]

26. Even where specialist services were available, victims and survivors often felt that provision was in short supply. As an adult, Robert provided a counselling service for male survivors. However, when he decided to seek support for the child sexual abuse that he had experienced, the police referred him to the service that he himself ran, as it was the only provider of appropriate support available. This made Robert feel like taking his own life.[12]

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