Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, has launched the All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. The Survivors Trust, a national umbrella agency for 130 specialist rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse services will provide the Secretariat to the new APPG.
In recent years there have been a series of high profile child sexual abuse scandals across the United Kingdom, including in Sarah Champion’s constituency of Rotherham, however there has been little focus on the voices or needs of adult survivors.
MPs and Peers were elected at the Inaugural Meeting of the APPG from across the political spectrum, in a demonstration of the willingness of Parliamentarians to work on a cross-party basis to improve support services for adult survivors of abuse. Sarah Champion was elected Chair of the APPG.
During the Inaugural Meeting, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and providers of specialist support services described the hidden costs to society of not addressing widespread abuse. Survivors shared commonly held experiences of their trauma going unrecognised and untreated by NHS services. It was acknowledged that, following the Jimmy Savile scandal, victims and survivors of past abuse have been encouraged to come forward only to be told there are insufficient resources to prosecute the crimes, provide survivors with therapy, or guarantee advocacy services for those who want it.
The APPG will focus its initial efforts on consulting with victims, survivors and support services understand their experiences of accessing support services and the criminal justice system. The APPG will host evidence sessions in Parliament, obtain the views of victims and survivors directly. The APPG will aim to highlight the need for specialist support services and to improve access to justice for adult survivors.
Commenting at the launch, Sarah Champion said:
“The new APPG seeks to give a voice to adult survivors of child abuse. We know that so many suffer in silence, struggle to get the support they need and encounter problems in accessing the criminal justice system.
This APPG will put survivors at the front and centre of the policy debate. As a nation, we were repulsed by the Savile scandal and pledged to do more to support survivors, but six years later have we achieved that aim?
Too often the long-term needs of survivors of childhood sexual abuse are forgotten. Abuse in childhood can have a devastating effect throughout a person’s life but when survivors’ transition to adulthood, survivors are expected to keep quiet and carry on while the statutory support available to them drops away.”
Fay Maxted OBE, Chief Executive of the Survivors Trust, commented:
“It is impossible these days to ignore the fact that as a society we have a problem with the sexual abuse of children.
The many disclosures relating to celebrities and the subsequent investigations, the many organised groups that have targeted children and young people, and the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse have opened everyone’s eyes to the depravity of sexual offenders, the prevalence of sexual abuse and the ongoing impact on victims and survivors. However, to date, there has been little targeted and specific focus on the needs of adult survivors.
This APPG will allow adult survivors to speak directly to government about how we as a society should respond through justice processes and in providing support and therapy to aid recovery for victims and survivors.”