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04.06.2019 | By Paul Simpson

Deaf people invited to share experiences of child sexual abuse

Posted in News

The Truth Project is launching a new service to enable Deaf people who were sexually abused as children to share their experience.

The Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, is partnering with Deaf health charity SignHealth to support Deaf people to come forward.

Data from SignHealth’s therapy service shows a quarter of the people seen have experienced abuse of some kind. They often find it much harder to speak out to someone who shares their language and is willing to understand them.

Participants who are Deaf or hard of hearing will be able to access information on a new dedicated webpage that includes sign language videos.

SignHealth will  provide information and support via WhatsApp, text message, video call or email.

Participants can then choose to attend a private session with Deaf facilitators at any of the Inquiry’s offices across the country. All transport costs are met and the process is entirely free; they are also welcome to bring hearing dogs or support animals.

Deaf participants, such as Peter and Veronica, have previously shared their accounts with the Inquiry.

Wayne Hurren, an Inquiry team member who is Deaf, said:

“I am so pleased that we can now offer the full Truth Project service to those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

“Deaf children are some of the most vulnerable in society and by specifically making provision for those with hearing difficulties we can empower all Deaf victims and survivors to come forward, if they choose.”

SignHealth Chair of Trustees, Jackie Driver said:

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.  This new, confidential service offers direct communication and support in British Sign Language on a sensitive subject that can affect anyone, regardless of their background.

“As a national charity, with more than 30 years’ experience of improving the mental health of Deaf people, we know that communication barriers and a lack of Deaf awareness often prevent Deaf people from having a voice.

“Today, we break down those barriers for any Deaf adult who may have experienced sexual abuse as a child.  Today, we enable and empower Deaf adults to come forward in a safe and supported environment to tell their Truth.”

The Truth Project was launched by the Inquiry in 2015 to enable all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience if they choose to do so. To date, more than 3,000 people have taken part.

Truth Project participants are listened to without judgement or challenge and their accounts help the Inquiry make recommendations to government and organisations on how to improve child protection across England and Wales.

To share your experience with the Truth Project, visit www.iicsa.org.uk/victims-and-survivors/services-deaf-users or email contact@iicsa.org.uk.