MORE than one in ten of the almost 5000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse who have made disclosures to the Truth Project were speaking about their experiences for the first time, new research by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has found.
The Truth Project was launched by the Inquiry in 2016 to help with its investigations. Since then, almost 5000 people have given personal accounts, 300 of whom have done so remotely in the past four months; 4269 have been analysed for research purposes.
In the latest findings, published last month, half the survivors reported living with an illness or condition that affected their everyday lives, while 87 per cent said that the childhood abuse had made an impact on their mental health.
Half the survivors also reported experiencing other forms of childhood abuse — physical, emotional, and spiritual — in addition to sexual abuse.
The Truth Project reports: “Survivors spoke of abuse taking place across a range of institutions such as schools, religious settings, and residential care, as well as sports and the armed forces. They also talked about experiencing abuse in their family setting and of being failed by someone in authority.”
More than 26,600 people have contacted IICSA since its inception in 2015 (News, 1 May). Public hearings for the investigation of Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings, which were suspended in March owing to Covid-19, have resumed by video conference.
In evidence heard on Monday, three former members of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (CCJW) said that the organisation had no designated safeguarding personnel or training when they were a part of it.
The witnesses were Sarah Davies, a member of the ex-JW Advocates Against Crimes Against Children and a survivor of child sexual abuse; Duncan Corbett, a former elder of 18 years; and James Lloyd Evans, a former elder for one year, and the founder and senior editor of jwsurvey.org.
Mr Lloyd Evans also said that the current child-protection policies in the CCJW had been produced “for the sake of having child safeguarding policies. . . They haven’t necessarily followed the child safeguarding policies.”
Mr Corbett concurred: “It is obvious that the emphasis of this article is about handling the sin. But CCJW is pointing to this as a child protection document. ‘This is our policy on child safeguarding.’ It is inadequate when it comes to handling the crime.”
Ms Davies called for an independent safeguarding body and mandatory reporting to hold the CCJW to account.
The IICSA hearings for Religious Organisations and Settings will also investigate child protection in the Baptist, Methodist, and other Nonconformist Christian denominations, as well as Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.