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It is sometimes a surprise to the survivor of abuse that he/she is likely to suffer very similar symptom to other victims/survivors of abuse Unlike triggers which are all different, symptoms are similar. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which spent 7 years amassing evidence of the subject area, produced its final report on 20th October 2022. At paragraph 42 entitled

"Common Experiences and the impact of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors" 

It is stated "42. The impact of child sexual abuse cannot be overstated because many victims and
survivors have experienced harm that has permeated many aspects of their lives. As
the accounts set out in Victims and Survivors’ Voices and the Inquiry’s investigation
reports reveal:

  • effects of the child sexual abuse, both physical and emotional, were profound
    and lifelong;
  • education, employment and career prospects were often irreparably damaged;
  • stable, secure and long-term relationships were hard to achieve;
  • sexual intimacy was often difficult;
  • children who were ‘groomed’ through use of alcohol and drugs often acquired a long term dependency or addiction;
  • some victims and survivors were driven to self-harming behaviours by shame, guilt and
    embarrassment, and some were so affected that they tried to take their own lives;
  • many victims and survivors of child sexual abuse that occurred in a religious
    context reported that it had led to a loss of faith or a loss of trust in a religious
    organisation; and
  • some people from ethnic minority communities were either ostracised or chose to
    leave their family or local community after their child sexual abuse became known.

43. While each victim and survivor inevitably experienced sexual abuse that varied in
its nature and in the settings and circumstances in which it was perpetrated, there were
common features:

  • child sexual abuse was often preceded or accompanied by threats, violence, cruelty
    and neglect;
  • there was excessive corporal punishment in some institutions, including in Roman
    Catholic and other schools which the Inquiry examined, custodial institutions and child
    migrant placements, which was often used as a means in itself of obtaining sexual
  • many children experiencing sexual abuse in a ‘closed environment’ were captive victims
    with little scope for reporting abuse to a trusted adult;
  • many did not disclose sexual abuse for fear of reprisals;
  • victims received grudging and unsympathetic responses to disclosure;
  • in many settings, compassion was extended to perpetrators but not to victims, with
    religious organisations in particular often displaying callous indifference to victims;
  • abuse often involved deliberate humiliation of children;
  • children in custodial institutions are amongst the most vulnerable in society;
  • adult survivors of sexual abuse in custodial institutions in the 1960s described some of
    the worst abuse the Inquiry heard;
  • the use of pain compliance on those aged 18 years or younger in custodial institutions
    was, and is, a form of physical abuse which contributed to a violent atmosphere in
    which sexual abuse thrived;
  • children with disabilities were particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse; and
  • issues with communication could make disclosing abuse more difficult, for example for non-verbal children or those with limited speech"

The above reflects entirely my experience of doing abuse cases for over 25 years.


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