Nine in 10 child sexual abuse survivors experience mental health problems, review finds

Joe Lepper
Thursday, August 5, 2021

The mental health of almost all survivors of child sexual abuse has been impacted by their ordeal, new research shows.

A third of respondents said they suffered from depression. Picture: Adobe Stock
A third of respondents said they suffered from depression. Picture: Adobe Stock

Research from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse found that 88 per cent of victims and survivors have seen their mental health impacted as a result of their abuse.

Over a third reported having depression, the research also found.

The findings have emerged from the Inquiry’s Truth Project, which has seen more than 5,600 victims and survivors share their experiences.

Of those that took, part one in ten disclosed sexual abuse they had experienced as a child for the first time.

At home, in schools, religious institutions, sports locations, custody and foster care were among some of the places where the abuse took place, the reports show.

Survivors also have to deal with other forms of abuse, including psychological abuse through fear and humiliation, reported by 29 per cent.

Among those taking part in the survey was Mayan who said of her experience: “I felt guilty like it was my fault anyway … my dad used to say, ‘it’s because you wear your skirts too short’ … that convinced me it was my fault ... Why would anyone say something like that?”

Another, Sammi-Jo, added: “I knew I didn’t have a choice in what was happening to me, but I still feel it might be my fault because I didn’t say ‘no’.”

Other impacts of abuse were on relationships, cited by more than half (54 per cent) of those taking part in the survey, and in their education and employment, mentioned by 42 per cent.

Survivors’ physical health has also suffered, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) reporting such problems. Nearly half of respondents said they have an illness or condition that impacts their lives every day.




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