The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has released its final publication of Experiences Shared, an online anthology highlighting the accounts of more than 1,100 victims and survivors who came forward to the Inquiry’s Truth Project. Survivors spoke of sexual abuse across multiple settings, the difficulties they’ve faced in speaking out and the devastating impacts of abuse on their lives. They emphasised the importance of a more open conversation on sexual abuse within society to spark cultural change.
Inquiry publishes 1,100 child sexual abuse accounts to amplify survivors’ voices
The Inquiry has released an online anthology highlighting the accounts of more than 1,100 victims and survivors who came forward to the Inquiry’s Truth Project. The first of its kind in the UK, the collection has along with the thousands of other experiences shared with the Truth Project helped inform primary research regarding child sexual abuse as well as recommendations for change across the Inquiry’s 19 investigation reports. Survivors spoke of sexual abuse across multiple settings, the difficulties they’ve faced in speaking out and the devastating impacts of abuse on their lives. They emphasised the importance of a more open conversation on sexual abuse within society to spark cultural change.
Ivor says ‘Terrible things have happened to me, but if I’m able to do anything to make sure other people don’t go through what I did, I’ll put my best foot forward’.
For more than six years, the Truth Project provided an opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences and make suggestions to help better protect children in future. The Truth Project came to a close in October last year so accounts shared can help to inform the Inquiry’s Final Report which will be published later this year.
Talking about sharing her experience with the Truth Project, Kayla says ‘I can’t really explain why I wanted to … it just felt comforting that there was something like this that I could feel heard’.
Alongside the accounts published today, the Inquiry has also released 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.
Helen says ‘Children are always in the wrong and adults are always in the right … if you’re a child in these institutions you’re not listened to’.
Victims and survivors told the Truth Project about the struggles they faced in speaking out, describing fears of being stigmatised 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.
Lucille would like a greater awareness that ‘the lives of sexually abused children are damaged not for weeks or months, but for decades’.
The experiences shared also describe changes that victims and survivors hope to see in future, such as better education, greater awareness and more open conversations about the effects of child sexual abuse.
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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.
3. The 1,100 accounts shared with the Truth Project will be available here, including the 50 published today: https://www.truthproject.org.uk/experiences-shared
4. The Truth Project came to a close in October 2021. More than 6,000 victims and survivors shared their accounts in person, over the phone, via video call or in writing.
5. The Inquiry will also publish its latest quarterly statistics, as well as illustrating the Inquiry’s engagement with victims and survivors over time.