IICSA launches dashboard based on accounts given to the Truth Project

IICSA has prepared a dashboard as part of its research programme, which provides information about the 5,440 victims and survivors who attended at the Truth Project from June 2016 to June 2021.

The dashboard provides information about:

  • the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
  • the nature of the abuse that they experienced
  • where the sexual abuse took place and who the perpetrators were
  • the impacts of child sexual abuse, and
  • whether those victims and survivors told anyone about the abuse.

Of the 5,440,440 victims and survivors who have attended the Truth Project:

  • 70% are female
  • 90% are from white ethnic background
  • The most common age for those who have shared their experience is between 50 and 59; this group accounts for 30% of those who have taken part in the Truth Project to date
  • 45% of the victims and survivors who took part in the Truth Project say they have an illness or condition that affects their daily lives

In terms of the nature of abuse that people have suffered, victims and survivors reported as follows:

  • 79% experienced child sexual abuse before the age of 11
  • Over half of victims and survivors reported that they had experienced sexual abuse involving fondling, and half experienced abuse involving penetration
  • 52% of victims and survivors reported experiencing other forms of abuse in addition to sexual abuse, of those who experienced other forms of abuse the most common as physical abuse which was experienced by 31% and psychological abuse by 29%

The dashboard also addresses the contexts in which child sexual abuse took place and the findings in this regard tend to re-enforce what we know already to be the case; that children are more likely to be abused by a family member than by an outside third party, with almost half of the victims and survivors telling the Truth Project that the perpetrator of the child sexual abuse was a family member:

  • Family member – 48%
  • Other relationship – 26%
  • Older child or peer – 14%
  • Teaching or educational staff – 12%
  • Clergy or church-related staff – 6%
  • Other professional staff – 4%
  • Residential care worker – 3%
  • Foster carer/family – 3%
  • Healthcare practitioner – 2%
  • Ancillary staff – 2%
  • Corrective service personnel – 1%
  • Sporting coach or volunteer – 1%
  • Military personnel – 1%

94% of the victims and survivors reported that they had experienced some effect adverse consequences from the child sexual abuse:

  • 88% reported that the abuse had adversely impacted their mental health with 37% of all victims and survivors reporting that they had experienced depression.
  • 54% said that their relationships had been adversely impacted by the abuse with the most commonly reported issues being trust and intimacy difficulties.
  • 42% stated that their education and/or employment had suffered as a result of the abuse.
  • 31% said that the abuse had affected their sexual behaviour and for some this had resulted in avoidance or phobic reactions to sexual intimacy.
  • 27% described how the abuse had impacted their physical health mainly resulting in musculoskeletal difficulties.
  • 9% of all victims and survivors interviewed reported that the abuse had caused them to be involved in criminal behaviour, though this was mostly minor offences.

As we know people find it very difficult understandably to discuss child sexual abuse and it go unreported for many years. 67% of those who attended the Truth Project did not tell anyone about the abuse when it was happening with 81% choosing not to tell anyone about it until after the abuse had ended and even then they may not have made a full disclosure of what had happened to them.

10% of those who participated in the Truth Project had never told anyone about the child sexual abuse before they spoke about it at the Truth Project.

There is nothing particularly new in the findings disclosed in the dashboard although I suspect that IICSA will be dis-appointed that it has not been able to get more men and other ethnic groups to engage with the Truth Project so as to ensure more balanced and inclusive findings.

Sharon Moohan, Partner, BLM

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