Parliamentary report released today shows shocking new evidence of the lifelong impact of child abuse
· Abuse negatively impacts every aspect of a survivor’s life with intimate relationships (90% of respondents), mental health (89%), family life (81%) and career (72%) being worst affected.
· Only 16% 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.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse today, Tuesday 7 May, launch a landmark report that uncovers the lifelong impact of child sexual abuse and exposes the failure of Government to provide survivors with information and support.
The APPG carried out a six-month inquiry, gathering the views of nearly 400 survivors from across the country. The APPG found whilst the impact of child sexual abuse lasts a lifetime, support for survivors often falls away when they reach adulthood. The inquiry heard that, on average, male survivors wait 26 years before disclosing their abuse, meaning some survivors never receive adequate support. Survivors told the inquiry how their relationships and family life is impeded by abuse, with families sometimes permanently divided as a result of closure. Many survivors felt they did not get any support to deal with this.
NHS mental health services are failing to provide survivors with the care they need. Only 16% said that mental health services met their needs and many told of wrong diagnoses and counterproductive treatment plans. Statutory services are not set up to recognise child sexual abuse survivors. Professionals are often awkward at best, insensitive at worst. Survivors spoke of how they were often given out of date or incorrect information by GPs and other professionals.
‘I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and of the mental health system.’
“There is not enough education about post-traumatic stress disorder in NHS or criminal justice system.”
“Many survivors who … try to access help through their GPs [face] a lottery as to which kind of help they will get. [There is a] lack of diagnosis and failure to understand the significance of the disclosure”
Survivors told the inquiry that counselling from a specialist is the single most important form of support to their recovery. The inquiry heard how these organisations do heroic work in the face of miniscule funding. Inevitably, many survivors are left languishing on waiting lists. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) hold NHS responsibility for commissioning specialist voluntary sector services but almost unbelievably the Department for Health holds no records on what they are commissioning.
The report makes a series of practical recommendations to Government to improve the lives of survivors 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; a nationwide public health campaign to raise awareness and provide information to survivors and professionals; guidance and training for frontline professionals on how to respond to survivors’ needs.
Sarah Champion, Chair of the APPG, commented:
“I have spoken to hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It is striking that almost all of them describe the way they are treated by the state as a secondary form of abuse. Who are with as a nation if we do not support victims of horrendous crime?
It is an outrage that despite all the talk of action so many child sex abuse survivors are left to fend for themselves. This is morally wrong and makes no sense economically.
This report gives concrete, cost-effective solutions to Ministers. Victims and survivors of child abuse are fed up with warm words from Government, they now want change.
Nearly 400 survivors have spoken. It’s time for the Government show it’s listening and take action.”
Notes to Editors:
Link to report:
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Jim Pomeroy (0207 219 5942) firstname.lastname@example.org).