Support services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
Adler, Joanna R
Aims The four broad research aims were to: ● understand more about victims and survivors’ reasons for not accessing support services and any barriers to access; ● learn about victims and survivors’ perceptions and experiences of support services; ● understand what support services victims and survivors think are available to them and how to access them; and ● explore whether there are unmet needs for support services which impact on whether victims and survivors access support. Methods The sample was drawn from 634 adults who self-identified as victims and survivors of child sexual abuse as part of the ‘Abuse during childhood’ module in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) year ending March 2019 (Office for National Statistics, 2020).3 A mixed-methods approach was used to explore the above research aims: ● A quantitative online survey4 of 181 victims and survivors from the CSEW recontact sample, including both those who had and had not accessed support. Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted. ● Twenty-four qualitative in-depth interviews with three groups: (A) eight who had not accessed support services; (B) eight who self-identified as having had positive experiences of support services; and (C) eight who had negative experiences of support services. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. These were supplemented with six pen portraits (two from each of the above groups), and a network map to aid understanding of the service landscape. The research participants The ages of the survey respondents ranged from 19 to 74 years, with an average of 47 years. Around four in five identified as female (82%), the majority identified as being of a White ethnic background (92%), and one in three reported having a disability (33%). All regions of England and Wales were represented, with one in four living in London or South East England (26%). Nearly nine in ten identified as heterosexual (89%) Respondents reported experiencing between one and eight types of child sexual abuse. The two most common forms were being kissed or groped on any part of the body in a sexual way (73%) and penetration (64%). The age at first victimisation spanned from infancy to 17 years old, with an average of 9 years old. Child sexual abuse was more likely to have occurred in a familial setting (41%) than an institutional one (11%). Two in five (43%) respondents identified a friend, acquaintance or neighbour as the perpetrator. Around one in four (27%) identified an immediate – typically male – family member as the perpetrator. A stranger was identified by one in five (20%) respondents. Just over one in five respondents had never previously disclosed their experiences of child sexual abuse (21%), while four in five had made a disclosure (79%). Respondents were more than twice as likely to report making a disclosure later in life (75%) than at the time of the abuse (28%). A quarter disclosed at both points (24%).
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