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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions

Context and nature of the sexual abuse

The majority of participants reported that they were sexually abused by individuals from the Anglican and Catholic Churches in England and Wales. However, individuals from other Christian denominations and other religions – including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam and Judaism – came to the Truth Project and were also included in the analysis. Perpetrators were often highly regarded and held particular positions of power in their communities.

Participants abused in religious contexts spoke most often about fondling (62 per cent), followed by other forms of sexual abuse involving non-penetrative contact (34 per cent). This contrasts slightly with abuse that occurred in other contexts, where participants most often talked about fondling (54 per cent) and penetrative abuse (50 per cent). Participants described the abuse as progressively escalating and many were abused over an extended period of time.

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