Woman who was sexually abused as child speaks out following sweeping national inquiry
By Faye Barker, Presenter, ITV News London
The scope of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has been vast and extraordinary.
It encompasses 19 parallel investigations into a shocking breadth of institutions, including political and religious organisations, as well as bodies who had been trusted to care for children.
After seven years we now, finally, have a conclusion.
Speaking at a press conference, Chair of the Inquiry Professor Alexis Jay OBE said, “The nature and scale of the abuse we encountered was shocking and deeply disturbing.
“This is not just an historical aberration which happened decades ago, it is an ever-increasing problem and a national epidemic.”
The inquiry made 20 recommendations, including making it a legal requirement for people in positions of trust to report suspected child sexual abuse.
It has also concluded that a national compensation scheme for victims should be introduced, and a Child Protection Authority should be established in England and Wales. The inquiry began back in 2015 after the Jimmy Savile scandal, along with other high-profile revelations. Over 7000 victims and survivors have since given their accounts.
Joanne – not her real name – is one of them. She was abused by someone in the Catholic Church and has spent nearly 40 years trying to be heard.
She said: “I think it’s been like being abused again and again. It’s past, present and future. It’s a life sentence. But what’s been really hard for me is there were so many people who knew about it, and I expected them to tell the truth.”
The message now from the thousands of victims is that the abusers – and those who protect them – must now be held to account.
The numbers still suffering are shocking. While delivering her conclusions today, Professor Jay, who was once a social worker in Dumbarton, said in any year group of 200 children, it’s estimated that 10 boys and 30 girls will experience sexual abuse before the age of 16.
Joanne’s life has been blighted by this abuse for decades. She says if the legacy of what she and others have all been through is some form of legal protection for children now, then she and others will start to sleep more easily.
The Catholic Church in Glasgow Archdiocese have been contacted for comment.
Picture: Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland, one of the places where child abuse was found to be happening.