IICSA press release: Victims and survivors say tackling child sexual abuse needs cultural change

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has today published 50 accounts victims and survivors have shared with its Truth Project. The following press release from IICSA provides further details:

PRESS RELEASE: Victims and survivors say tackling child sexual abuse needs cultural change

Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have described their hopes for a society where they are not afraid to talk about their experiences, and underlined the importance of encouraging a more open conversation on sexual abuse. 

Speaking to the Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, survivors spoke of the devastating impacts of the abuse, the difficulties they faced in speaking out and how they hoped to help others by coming forward. 

Sheryl says ‘I wish I had the courage to speak up sooner. The more people tell their stories the more awareness there will be’.

The Inquiry has today (10 February) published a further 50 accounts shared with its Truth Project, which for more than six years has provided an opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences and put forward suggestions for change. The Truth Project came to a close in October last year so accounts shared can help to inform the Inquiry’s Final Report.

The Inquiry has also published its latest quarterly statistics, providing an update across all areas of its work, as well as illustrating the Inquiry’s engagement with victims and survivors over time.

Those who came forward to the Truth Project described sexual abuse taking place across a range of contexts, including residential care homes, schools and religious insitutions. They talked about those in authority turning a blind eye, or being encouraged to stay silent, ignored or threatened when they reported abuse. Some said they simply had no one to tell.

Felix says ‘You’re like a little child crying out in the wilderness and nobody’s listening’

Victims and survivors told the Truth Project about the struggles they faced in speaking out, describing fears of stigma or not being believed. Many spoke about the severe impact the sexual abuse has had across all aspects of their lives including relationships, education and work, as well as physical and mental health. For some, the effects have lasted years.

Nearly a decade after the abuse ended, Shannon says, ‘It still affects me now … it affects everything. The long-term effects are worse than the abuse’.

The experiences shared also describe changes that survivors hope to see in future, such as better education, greater awareness and more open conversations about the effects of child sexual abuse.

For help and support, you can access information on a range of organisations signposted on our support page.

Notes to editors 

1.     The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is examining the extent to which institutions and organisations have failed to protect children in England and Wales from sexual abuse.

2.     Institutional failure means either the abuse was reported to someone in a position of authority, such as the police or a social worker, but appropriate action was not taken, or that the abuser was someone in a position of power, such as a teacher or religious leader.

4.     The 50 accounts shared with the Truth Project will be available here: https://www.truthproject.org.uk/experiences-shared

5.     The Inquiry will also publish its latest quarterly statistics, as well as illustrating the Inquiry’s engagement with victims and survivors over time. 

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