Support services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse

Anna Gekoski, Tim McSweeney, Steve Broome, Joanna R Adler, Sam Jenkins, Demi Georgiou

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The four broad research aims were to:
● understand more about victims and survivors’ reasons for not accessing support services and any
barriers to access;
● learn about victims and survivors’ perceptions and experiences of support services;
● understand what support services victims and survivors think are available to them and how to
access them; and
● explore whether there are unmet needs for support services which impact on whether victims
and survivors access support.
The sample was drawn from 634 adults who self-identified as victims and survivors of child sexual
abuse as part of the ‘Abuse during childhood’ module in the Crime Survey for England and Wales
(CSEW) year ending March 2019 (Office for National Statistics, 2020).3 A mixed-methods approach was
used to explore the above research aims:
● A quantitative online survey4 of 181 victims and survivors from the CSEW recontact sample,
including both those who had and had not accessed support. Descriptive and inferential analyses
were conducted.
● Twenty-four qualitative in-depth interviews with three groups: (A) eight who had not accessed
support services; (B) eight who self-identified as having had positive experiences of support
services; and (C) eight who had negative experiences of support services. The interviews were
analysed using thematic analysis.
These were supplemented with six pen portraits (two from each of the above groups), and a network
map to aid understanding of the service landscape.
The research participants
The ages of the survey respondents ranged from 19 to 74 years, with an average of 47 years. Around
four in five identified as female (82%), the majority identified as being of a White ethnic background
(92%), and one in three reported having a disability (33%). All regions of England and Wales were
represented, with one in four living in London or South East England (26%). Nearly nine in ten identified
as heterosexual (89%)
Respondents reported experiencing between one and eight types of child sexual abuse. The two
most common forms were being kissed or groped on any part of the body in a sexual way (73%) and
penetration (64%). The age at first victimisation spanned from infancy to 17 years old, with an average
of 9 years old.
Child sexual abuse was more likely to have occurred in a familial setting (41%) than an institutional one
(11%). Two in five (43%) respondents identified a friend, acquaintance or neighbour as the perpetrator.
Around one in four (27%) identified an immediate – typically male – family member as the perpetrator.
A stranger was identified by one in five (20%) respondents.
Just over one in five respondents had never previously disclosed their experiences of child sexual abuse
(21%), while four in five had made a disclosure (79%). Respondents were more than twice as likely to
report making a disclosure later in life (75%) than at the time of the abuse (28%). A quarter disclosed at
both points (24%).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Commissioning bodyIndependent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
Number of pages114
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2020


  • Child Abuse
  • Child Sexual Assault
  • Survivors/psychology
  • Survivors
  • Victim/Survivors
  • Adult Survivors


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