The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse has published a research report on survivors in religious establishments based on accounts shared by its Truth Project in England and Wales, including the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Christian faith communities such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Methodists, and Islam and Judaism.

The key findings were:-

  • Those sexually abused in religious establishments were less likely to report the abuse at the the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in the same institution.
  • Over half of survivors did not report the abuse due to feelings of shame (37 per cent) and guilt (18 per cent).
  • Half of victims (48 per cent) knew of others being abused by the same perpetrator.
  • One fifth (18 percent) of survivors reported a loss of faith as a consequence of the abuse.

The report also examines the failures of the religious establishments, with most participants firmly believing others were aware of the perpetrator’s behaviour but did nothing. Sexual abuse was found to be most frequently performed by an individual with an official religious title a priest, vicar, imam or elder.

Survivors at the Truth Project are invited to make recommendations for change and told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious organisations and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral.

Dr Sophia King, principal researcher, said;

“this report examines their accounts in order to paint a clear picture of abuse in religious settings. It is clear that feelings of shame and embarrassment created a huge barrier to children disclosing abuse, as did the power and authority bestowed upon their abusers.”

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