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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse in the context of children’s homes and residential care

Background of children sexually abused in residential care contexts

This group of victims and survivors typically had disrupted and chaotic childhoods.

They described complex family dynamics and not having close relationships with parents. In some cases, parents were deceased while others were struggling with alcohol misuse and mental health issues. Participants often talked about being surrounded by high levels of violence in their family homes, a lack of housing stability and experiencing some form of abuse prior to being placed in residential care. Several participants also reported having health issues or an ongoing disability since childhood.

You go into a children’s home already damaged, we’re already damaged before we get to that point; we’re not going there for a holiday, we’re not going there because we’re well-managed, well-fucking-centred kids, we’re going there because we’re a bit broken, and we’re breaking everyone else around us. But it should’ve been a place of safety.

Truth Project participant sexually abused in a residential care context

So far 33 per cent of all Truth Project participants have identified as male, but when looking at just the participants who experienced sexual abuse in the context of residential care this rises to 57 per cent identifying as male.

Overall, the most common decade for abuse to begin for all participants attending the Truth Project was the 1970s. Experiences of sexual abuse in residential care shared by participants did, however, tend to begin in a slightly earlier time period than abuse that occurred outside of a residential care context. Of the participants sexually abused in residential care, 36 per cent reported abuse that took place prior to the 1970s compared to 29 per cent of participants who were abused in other contexts.

Two thirds of the Truth Project participants (66 per cent) sexually abused in a residential care context were aged 8 or older when the abuse began compared to 55 per cent of participants abused in other contexts. The most common age range for participants abused in the context of residential care to first experience abuse was 12–15 years old (32 per cent of participants abused in a residential care context, compared to 20 per cent of participants abused in other contexts).

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