News

OSARCC responds to the Office for National Statistics data on Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales

OSARCC responds to the Office for National Statistics data on Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales


The findings from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales are consistent with our experience at Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC). However, more must be done to fully uncover the scale and nature of child sexual abuse, and its impact on survivors.

The ONS release this week outlines a number of key findings: that sexual abuse is more likely to be experienced by women than men; that many cite a fear of not being believed as a reason they did not disclose; that many are abused by people know to them; and that the majority of abuse takes place within a home environment – contrary to the commonly believed myth that sexual abuse is committed by strangers down dark alleyways.

These findings echo OSARCC’s experience of supporting survivors of sexual violence for the last 40 years. An independent evaluation of OSARCC’s services carried out last year found that for those who used our service, feeling believed was of key importance, with one women telling us “I had someone who believed me and was on my side”. Another stated that a counsellor in our service “displayed more understanding in half an hour than in many hours of counselling beforehand”, highlighting the need for specialist, holistic services such as ours. Information from OSARCC service users also confirms that the vast majority of survivors know their abusers, with only 5% reporting that the perpetrator was a stranger.

In keeping with the data from the ONS, more than 40% of those who used our services in 2018-19 had experienced child sexual abuse. The ONS release represents a welcome attempt to bring together and analyse key data on child sexual abuse from a range of sources. However, the perpetrators of these crimes remain partly hidden. For example, the ONS data indicates that 37% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a friend or acquaintance, but fails to break down the number of these perpetrators who were also aged under 16, thus leaving child on child sexual abuse a hidden crime. With Childline reporting that 29% of their calls are from children talking about abuse perpetrated by another child, more must be done to fully understand the scale and nature of child on child sexual abuse.

Given the report also shows that disclosures of child sexual abuse are increasing, as is the number of people attempting to access support, more must also be done to ensure the survival of specialist support agencies such as OSARCC. Whilst OSARCC’s services have grown to meet the needs of survivors in our local community, our funding and resources have not grown at the same rate. It is for this reason that we are aiming to raise £40,000 in our 40th Anniversary year in order to ensure that no survivors is left without support.

Chief Executive Officer Lisa Ward comments “In the last ten years the number of reported sexual offences has increased, whilst the number of survivors securing a conviction in our courts has decreased. Meanwhile tjushe number of survivors contacting OSARCC grows year on year. We know that access to specialist support can be both life changing and life saving but at the moment survivors are having to wait much longer that we’d like to be able to access support. That’s why we’re asking members of the local community to support our campaign and help us raise £40,000 in our anniversary year”.

To support our campaign please visit our campaign page on JustGiving.

Read the full ONS report.

Keep up to date, sign up to our newsletter

Escape to Google