New research from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has found that over two thirds of victims and survivors did not tell anyone that they were being sexually abused at the time it was happening. One in 10 disclosed the abuse for the first time when they spoke to the Inquiry’s Truth Project.
More than 5,400 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have now shared their experiences with the Truth Project in England and Wales. Of these, 5,104 personal accounts have been analysed for research purposes.
Survivors spoke of sexual abuse taking place across a range of institutions such as schools, religious settings and residential care, as well as healthcare and sports settings. More than a third were between four and seven when the abuse began.
Over half of survivors reported other forms of abuse to the Inquiry, with physical abuse, such as being choked, punched or dragged by the hair, most commonly disclosed (31 percent). Almost all of those who shared their accounts described some form of impact as a result of the child sexual abuse, with 87 percent describing an effect on their mental health and over a third reporting depression. Nearly half told us they had an illness or condition that affects their everyday lives.
Today, the Inquiry is also publishing a further 80 Experiences Shared with the Truth Project. These accounts show that even when victims tried to report the sexual abuse, they were threatened, ignored or told to stay silent.
Blair says that the abuser threatened to kill her mum and dad if she told anyone, but at the same time, he would continue to build trust by taking her out. She says that memories of sexual abuse ‘take up most of what my childhood was’.
Survivors also talked about changes they hope to see in future, such as further education and a more open conversation on the impact of child sexual abuse. After sharing their account with the Truth Project, many described feelings of liberation, and said that they hoped to help others who had been through a similar experience.
Davy was groomed and sexually abused by a female teacher at his secondary school.
He feels that sharing his experience with the Truth Project ‘is a turning point … life is getting shorter and I don’t want to live my life under a shadow’.
The Truth Project is closing in 2021, but victims and survivors who would like to share their experience can still do so by phone, via video call or in writing. More information about how to share can be found on the Truth Project website.