Hear me. Believe me. Respect me. Focus on survivors: a survey of adult survivors of child sexual abuse and their experiences of support services

SMITH Noel, DOGARU Cristian, ELLIS Fiona
University Campus Suffolk
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Findings from an on-line, national survey of nearly 400 adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in the UK. The survey looked at experiences of abuse, satisfaction with different types of service and the availability of information about services. CSA tends to be portrayed as assaults on children by adults outside of the family, often as isolated or short term episodes, and often as involving children on an opportunistic or random basis. The survey suggests that this portrayal does not reflect typical experiences of abuse: almost 70 per cent of respondents reported that they were abused within the family or extended family and over 20 per cent reported that abuse happened in somebody else’s home; the average duration of abuse was seven years; over half of respondents reported being abused by more than one person; only 11 per cent of survivors said that abuse stopped about the same time as they made their disclosures. Satisfaction with services was closely related to some basic qualities in the way services treated survivors – that is, whether they made survivors feel listened to, believed and respected. The report concludes that misinformation about CSA in the UK risks undermining targeted strategies to tackle typical forms of childhood sexual abuse; greater professional vigilance in asking service users if they had experienced CSA – rather than relying on people to self-disclose – would be important for bringing forward processes of support and recovery for survivors; and good service response can result in survivors coming to a point of recovery or resolution sooner in their lives while at the same time making more efficient use of service resources. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
child sexual abuse, survivors, surveys, user views, child protection, access to services;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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