Sarah Champion MP writes to Ministers demanding policy changes to improve child sexual abuse survivors’ outcomes.
Parliamentary report released this week shows shocking new evidence of the lifelong impact of child abuse.
Chair of the APPG writes to Ministers demanding policy changes to improve survivors’ outcomes.
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.
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.
Following the launch today, Tuesday 7 May, of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse that uncovers the lifelong impact of child sexual abuse and inadequacy of accessible support for survivors, Sarah Champion MP has written to the Secretaries of State for the Home Office, Justice, Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In her letter, Sarah Champion highlights areas where changes Government policy would improve outcomes for survivors of child sexual abuse: an analysis of the economic and social cost of child sexual abuse; a strategic cross-government fund for tackling child sexual abuse that funds the core requirements of the specialist sexual violence and abuse voluntary sector; training professionals in trauma-informed practice; a nationwide public health campaign to improve the information about the impact of abuse and availability of support services to both survivors and professionals.
The inquiry heard about the devastating impact of abuse on all aspects of survivors’ lives. The report recommends the Home Office undertake an analysis of the economic and social cost of abuse as has recently been published for domestic abuse. This will highlight the need for investment in quality services.
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. Some services have faced a 30 per cent year on year rise in demand. Inevitably as a result, many survivors are left languishing on waiting lists. The report calls for a strategic cross-government fund to transform Government response to child sexual abuse. This should fund core services to meet demand and recognise the value of the specialist voluntary sector.
Survivors had a mixed experience of accessing mental health treatments on the NHS. Only 16 per cent of respondents to the survey said that mental health services had met their needs. The inquiry found that despite Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) holding responsibility for commissioning specialist voluntary sector sexual violence and abuse services, NHS England has made no assessment of the effectiveness of CCGs in this regard, nor does the Department for Health collect data centrally on the portion of CCG budgets spent on therapeutic care for survivors. The report recommends NHS England begin collecting data and consider ringfenced funding to ensure CCGs commission specialist voluntary sector services to meet demand.
Survivors said they want frontline professionals to be trained so the psychological trauma caused by abuse and its impact across all aspects of a person’s life is more widely recognised. The report recommends Government departments should issue guidance to relevant professionals on how to respond in a trauma-informed way.
Many survivors told the inquiry they received poor quality information from professionals about the impact of abuse and where they could access support. The report recommends a nationwide public health campaign to raise awareness of the issues around childhood sexual abuse, highlight the potential impact on survivors, tackle social myths and stereotypes about sexual abuse and direct survivors and professionals to sources of support and information.
APPG’s findings were gathered in a six-month inquiry which gathered the views of nearly 400 survivors from across the country as well as sector leads, including NHS England.
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?
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.”
Link to report: