As Voicing CSA we have gained experience through travelling around the country speakwing with survivors of CSA, CSE, Domestic Abuse and Violence. During that time we have been entrusted with some very dark and horrifying accounts of abuse that has been suffered in childhood and early adulthood.
I strongly believe that Telford and Wrekin council has the opportunity to lead the way in which no other council has led, including Rotherham, in hearing survivors and victims of CSA and CSE. It is vital that survivors of CSA are included in the Inquiry so that you get a full picture and remains inclusive of all childhood sexual abuse and exploitation.
What of children abused by authority figures? What of children abused in a familial setting and then attempted to report that abuse and were not believed, told to shut up, told it was their fault?
There are many instances that we hear about where a survivor has tried to report the abuse and got nowhere because that figure of authority refused to act? What of children who were abused but do not see it as exploitation. There are many who have suffered exploitation and still believe it was their fault and do not speak about the exploitation part but refer to the abuse they suffered as childhood sexual abuse and by not being inclusive of children abused in childhood alongside those who also suffered exploitation.
By remaining exclusively focussed on child sexual exploitation the Inquiry would be telling so many survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse that they do not matter and they do.
There are also many resources within the Telford area that are well equipped to work with survivors and they would be able to grow and develop through the course of the Inquiry in a neighbourhood facility supporting their neighbours through their journey of recovery. The advantage of that is that the money spent on the Inquiry and the services needed to support would remain local and continue to assist Telford and Wrekin to flourish and gain a reputation as a second to none leader in the fight against all childhood sexual abuse and exploitation.
It is vital that you find a Chair for your Inquiry as soon as possible and do not prevaricate in trying to decide amongst yourselves the direction you wish the Independent Inquiry into childhood sexual abuse and exploitation in Telford should go. You have elected for an Independent Inquiry and that is what it must remain, Independent.
It is imperative that your Chair of an Independent Inquiry must have the trust of survivors and victims in Telford and we have indeed recommended a person qualified to carry out your Independent Inquiry and to work with Telford and Wrekin councillors to develop Terms of Reference for your Independent Inquiry.
What is imperative is that you initiate theIndependent Inquiry of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation with a Chair who has knowledge, understanding and has worked within the field of Inquiry before any further steps are taken.
Chair of Voicing CSA