News

#ChildSexualAbuse #CSA

#IICSA #BreakingTheCycle #BreakingTheSilence #SOB #IntrafamilialAbuse

This was my speech last week at #CityHall #MOPAC with the Deputy Mayor of Policing & Crime Sophie Linden.

They asked me to share a snapshot of my life and my current experience of the Police in response to the #MBARC Needs Assessment report & the #HMIC report which was published last week.

I wanted to speak at this event and to Police Officers (who work with victims & survivors of abuse) to make sure they understand the impact of child abuse on us as individuals and how they conduct themselves through an investigation can have a positive or further negative impact on us.

Their approach in dealing with complainants needs further work. They are listening and they are keen to improve but they have restricted resources and their approach needs to be trauma informed which takes more time, more training and more care from officers. Not every officer is suited to this work.

If I had a chance I would have the same conversation with health care professionals, social workers, the judiciary system and so on!

The whole care pathway for victims & survivors needs an overhaul & investment.

It’s needs a top level strategy to look at all the pieces rather than this silo approach that is taking place.

It’s going to take a huge investment to tackle #CSA & #CSE in England & Wales.

In my opinion if we get the future prevention, education & response right it will save us hugely in long term costs.

I’m not sure the Government and here I’m referring to all political parties really wants to understand the true scale & scope of the problem we face because of the investment that is needed. My case in point is that the Government talk about #CSE and fund that ( and rightly so) but this is just a small subset of #CSA which they glide over and don’t fund!!!

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“My siblings & I have been a victims of emotional abuse, physical abuse, some of us were sexually abused within the home environment and I was groomed & sexually abused by someone outside of the home.

We all grew up in a domestic violence household – 2 in fact.

The trauma we suffered from what we experienced as children and adolescents has stayed with us for our lifetime.

We are still trying to get the right help and support today.

* I reported to the Police when I was 9
* We told social workers what life was like at home
* I wrote stories at school about life at home – you could clearly see and smell that we were neglected.
* My sister & I reported to the police when she was 16 & I was 18.

After trying to speak up to different people but not being believed; after awhile, you just shut up!

But all those feelings of hurt, anger, guilt, shame, stress affects both your mental & physical health – over time you either explode or implode – take it out the people around you or yourself or both.

We felt unheard and forgotten for decades but in 2012 we decided to share our experiences because we never thought we would get ‘justice’ – our voices heard – any other way.

We wanted to help others understand that child abuse is not their fault, that they were not alone and they could speak up too if they decided to.

I then shared my experiences with #IICSA, the matter was referred to Op Hydrant and onto the local Police force this year.

We now have an ongoing investigation into our experiences 35 years on.

So far our Police journey has been up and down in terms of being retraumatising and no appriprate support being offered.

I have researched the impact of trauma of childhood sexual abuse on the victims & survivors and have recently written a self help therapy book on this matter.

I explained the dynamics and the complexities of our family to the Police and they have gone against the insight I offered and made some decisions that have personally caused me great stress.

This was retraumatising and bought about intense feelings of anger and mistrust.

Key Issues in my opinion that need to be addressed:-

1) Trust – Survivors/ victims /complainants need to be able to trust their case officer. They need continuity of the relationship. We are 4 months into our case and we have a different officer already.

2) Importance & understanding of the subject matter – child sexual abuse #CSA child sexual exploitation #CSE is at epidemic levels in England & Wales

It not only affects the child that is enduring it but the adult the child becomes and in some cases the future generations of that child – I have seen this in my own family.

We need a lead who understands this and who will change the culture going fwds to put the complainants health & wellness at the fore of any criminal investigation.

We need agencies to work together to share info and through best practise help and support not only the victim and the families but start to change the way society percives child sexual abuse.

3) Support throughout the investigation – Look to other forces for best practise

I have undetaken training with Surrey Police whose head puts alot of emphasise on the complainants journey.

Their model is based on having a SOIT Investigative Office as well as support officer in the form of an ISVA to deal with the worries concerns and practicalities of the complainant.

The care of the complainant (welfare & legal process now) is taken care by the team work of the Police and support worker.

I have had no such support and this has impacted my siblings & I

4) Long term specialist support for non recent child sexual abuse is a must. Many orgs who offer specialist support to victims & surviviors have been fighting for years. Funding is not long term many fsce closure at any time.

The long term impact of CSA is well known so why is there no long term plan to fund organisations that do invaluable work in place?

I don’t know how we are going to achieve all the changes that ar needed when cuts are being made everywhere!!

* Caseloads are rising up to 40% across many Police forces.
* IT systems are not robust enough for info sharing across across agencies as outlined in the HMIC report Nov 2016.
* The right support is not in place
* Mental health services are not adequate

Every conversation I have had with victims and survivors and stakeholders (those that provide the serives) the message is clear all services are oversubscribed & underfunded.

The whole care pathway for victims & survivors and the way in which we deal with CSA needs major investment and change.

#Childabuse is at pandemic proportions, it always has been but now MORE victims and survivors are disclosing.

#Sports #Church #Military #Education #CareHomes #Entertainment #CustodialSettings #Schools #Scouts #FamilyHome

The list of institutions goes on & on. Not one institution is exempt!

We need to listen and learn from the past to better safeguard the future.

Children who are currently being abused need help & support right now and the #Barnahaus model seems to be working very well for this.

However victims & survivors of #NonRecentAbuse also need the right response – they have an inner child that is also in dire need of being heard, being believed and supported so that they can move on with their lives.