Almost half of victims of child sexual abuse who have come forward to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse were under eight years old when their abuse began, it has been reported.
Almost 80 per cent of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse who have come forward to the Inquiry's Truth Project were sexually abused by age 11 while 46 per cent of victims were aged under eight when the abuse began.
The Inquiry also reveals that almost half of abuse was committed by a family member.
Drusilla Sharpling, head of the Truth Project, and a Panel member said: “Thousands of victims and survivors have helped the Inquiry to understand the depth and breadth of the institutional failures that led to children being sexually abused.
“The information victims and survivors share with us are a vital part of the Inquiry’s work and will contribute to our final recommendations," she added.
More than 4,000 survivors of child sexual abuse have now shared experiences with the Truth Project in England and Wales. Of these, 3,265 personal accounts have been analysed for research purposes.
The Inquiry has published a further 80 Experiences Shared with the Truth Project which show that even when victims came forward to report abuse to those in authority, they were encouraged to stay silent, ignored or threatened,
Victims were warned by those in authority, including the police and social services, that their accusations could ‘ruin’ the lives of perpetrators. Others were dismissed as ‘attention seekers’, or behaved badly at school, but the signs were not picked up by their teachers.
More than 85 percent of survivors told the Inquiry that the abuse they had encountered had a long term impact on their mental health, with over a third reporting depression.
Chris Tuck, a member of the Inquiry’s Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel, said: “I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, and I helped to design the Truth Project. It is a welcoming, supportive place where victims and survivors can share our experiences and put forward recommendations for change.
“If we are to protect future generations of children, we need to listen to those who have experienced abuse and learn from them about what went wrong, why it went wrong and what we can put in place to stop it going wrong in the future," he added.
Survivors of child sexual abuse who would like to share their experiences in writing, over the phone or in person can get in touch with the Inquiry's Truth Project. Visit www.truthproject.org.uk or email email@example.com