Alexis Jay: We want to listen to the victims of sexual abuse

Professor Alexis Jay.
Professor Alexis Jay.
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From: Professor Alexis Jay, Chair, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

The Yorkshire Post Says: Rotherham ‘cock up’ does not do justice to one of the biggest scandals in council history

AS Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, it is my responsibility to examine if and how institutions in England and Wales failed to protect children from sexual abuse.

This issue is not new to Leeds. Operation Yewtree’s investigation into Jimmy Savile has seen Leeds thrown into the spotlight.

Now, years on from that investigation, we’re asking all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse from this area to come forward and share their experience with us through the Truth Project in October and November.

Victims and survivors accounts can be given in as much or as little detail as they feel comfortable with, at a Truth Project session. Importantly, this will be in a supportive and confidential environment.

The failure to listen to victims and survivors in the past is one of the main reason we are here today.

I know that talking about child sexual abuse is not easy. Victims and survivors have often told me they feel stigmatised, ashamed, and guilty because of what happened to them.

That’s why we ensured victims and survivors were closely involved in the design of the Truth Project so that each session is as supportive as possible. Our trained facilitators will never press you for more information that you wish to share.

Some people may be unsure about what constitutes child sexual abuse. It can mean forcing or enticing someone under the age of 18 to take part in sexual activities, it could be encouraging children to watch pornograpy or to ‘sext’. It might be that the sexual abuse is carried out by a person in a position of power, such as a teacher or someone who works in a care home.

Or, the abuse might have been carried out at home but when it was reported to someone in authority, such as a police officer, a teacher or a social worker no action, or the wrong action, was taken.

For too long victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have been ignored, not believed or have been made to feel ashamed for telling the truth. Our aim is to leave a legacy of a society which better understands the causes, nature and impact of child sexual abuse, so that institutions and individuals can never again say: “We did not know.”

If you would like to share your experience with the Truth Project, please visit the inquiry’s website – www.iicsa.org.uk – Or you can call the information line on 0800 917 1000 (weekdays 8am-8pm and Saturdays 10am-12pm).

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