'Landmark' report reveals lifelong impact of child sexual abuse and Government failure to support survivors

By Adele Forrest | 07/05/2019

'Landmark' report reveals lifelong impact of child sexual abuse and Government failure to support survivors

A NEW “landmark” report has revealed the impact of child sexual abuse and exposed the failure of the Government to provide survivors with information and support.

A Rotherham CSE victim welcomed the findings of a six-month inquiry and said she hoped the report into whether adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse can access justice and support would be a “turning point”.

The inquiry was carried out by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, which was formed and headed up by Rotherham MP Sarah Champion in November 2018. 

The report has been published today (Tuesday) and is built on what Ms Champion called “really robust data” from a survey of 365 survivors nationwide, which was like nothing she had seen before. 

The purpose of forming the APPG was to highlight the needs of victims and survivors across the country and to give a voice to their concerns in Parliament. 

This is the first of its three reports to be published this year and it reveals:

  • Abuse negatively impacts on every aspect of a survivor’s life, with intimate relationships (90 per cent of respondents), mental health (89 per cent), family life (81 per cent) and career (72 per cent) being worst affected.
  • Only 16 per cent of child sex abuse survivors say NHS mental health services met their needs.
  • Survivors say professionals rarely recognise the impact of abuse, treat them insensitively and give them incorrect information.
  • For over half of survivors surveyed, the first person they tell about abuse is a family member or friend and counsellors are the most likely professional to be told.
  • On average, male survivors wait 26 years before disclosing their abuse.
  • Signposting to services is poor, with survivors often given inaccurate information about the availability of services in their area. 
  • Many survivors had difficulties with the NHS, which did not have a trauma-informed approach to care. Survivors felt that frontline professionals (GPs, police, social workers and Jobcentre Plus work coaches) should be trained in this approach. 

A Rotherham CSE survivor who goes by the pseudonym “Elizabeth” took part in the survey and welcomed the report, which she called a “brilliant piece of work”. 

“I think it’s a great start,” she said.

“It recognises what’s needed, it recognises the trauma that survivors face and I hope it’s a turning point.” 

The report makes five key recommendations including: a strategic fund in the upcoming Spending Review to transform Government’s response to child sexual abuse, NHS action to ensure CCG funding for the specialist voluntary sector nationally and guidance and training for frontline professionals on how to respond to survivors’ needs.

Elizabeth (31) said she hoped access to counselling and therapy would be prioritised.

The survivor, whose childhood abuser was jailed last year, revealed she had not yet accessed counselling but had been given life-changing support by charity Swinton Lock. 

After being referred to the Salvation Army a year ago for therapy, Elizabeth said she had not heard anything from them, but added: “It shouldn’t be on the small charities to do this, the Government needs to be putting more money into funding.” 

Ms Champion said she was “really pleased” with the evidence gathered in the “landmark report”. 

“I don’t know of a body of research like this that has got this many people surveyed — I really hope it will have an impact,” she said. 

“I am fed up of hearing survivor after survivor saying: ‘I was abused all over again by the state when I tried to get help’. 

Ms Champion added: “What shocked me the most was the incredibly high levels of survivors saying how much their intimate relationships, family relationships, employment and mental health were impacted. 

“We have heard off individual survivors but when 90 per cent of 365 people are all saying that intimate relationships were negatively impacted, that’s huge.” 

The MP said the lifelong impacts of child abuse could be “easily managed” by the state.

She said: “The way the country pays for everything is by taxes, if we as a state do things to keep people in employment by offering counselling, time off work to attend court, then people are able to hold jobs down and contribute. 

“If you don’t give them that support, they start disengaging with society and they might lose their job.”

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) hold NHS responsibility for commissioning specialist voluntary sector services but Ms Champion said “almost unbelievably the Department for Health holds no records on what they are commissioning”.

She added: “There’s no overview of nationally what support there’s for people — so it might be that it’s fantastic but from the number of survivors saying they didn’t get the support needed from the NHS, there’s huge gaps in provision.”

Survivors spoke positively about the support they had received from charities but the MP said funding for charities was not keeping up with the high demand. 

Ms Champion said the report gives ideas of concrete, cost-effective solutions to ministers which would make it easier for adult survivors to access support. 

She added: “The Government needs to wake-up to the impact this crime causes and do more to support victims.” 

To read the report visit https://bit.ly/2VNLekW.


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