Child on a sofa sat across from a professional in a support session

Support Matters

Significant new research exploring the availability of support services for children and adults affected by child sexual abuse.

Support Matters is the most comprehensive study to-date of the current landscape of service provision in response to child sexual abuse in England & Wales.

In this landmark research, the CSA Centre found just 468 services providing support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, yet an estimated 500,000 children will suffer some form of child sexual abuse every year.

 

Our researchers interviewed the providers of over a third (168) of these services in detail and found that most were only able to respond to comparatively very small numbers of victims/survivors. Almost half were able to support fewer than 100 people in 2021/22.

The research found waiting times for services for children who have been sexually abused have more than doubled since 2015. On average, victims/survivors, both children and adults, are waiting six months for much-needed support and one in nine support services hold waiting lists extending over a year.

 

Support services were predominantly delivered by the not-for-profit sector, and most were running their service with fewer than ten full-time staff.

 

Of course, delayed support and waiting lists can have a profound impact on top of the existing harm of sexual abuse for children, adult survivors, and their families. But leaving victims waiting to access support adds a further barrier to seeking help.

We estimate more than 55,000 people in England and Wales are currently held on waiting lists for support following child sexual abuse.

A professional speaks to a child in a youth centre

Briefing for commissioners and policy makers

We have produced a short specific briefing which draws on our research findings to prioritise information to aid funders and commissioners of services, and to policymakers.

The briefing sets out the implications of the findings in the Support Matters report and poses questions to support reflection and review. We hope it will help local, regional and national funding and commissioning practice to begin filling the significant gaps in support provision that we have identified. Download the briefing below.