Photography: Pexels

Child abuse victims who are LGBTQ+ face a unique set of challenges in disclosing their experiences, accessing support and forming adult relationships, a ground-breaking report has found.

Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers uncomfortable.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its ‘Engagement with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning + victims and survivors’ on 24 May, which concluded that some LGBTQ+ child survivors are blamed for their abuse.

Many grew up to have a damaged sense of identity and mental health, with some finding it hard to understand their sexual orientation or gender identity because of their experiences.

“Stigma and myths have been very prominent…There is far too much emphasis on the survivor and victim blaming and little understanding of LGBTQ+ lived experiences,” one survivor said. “This leaves the survivor feeling unheard and disheartened which makes seeking help much harder.”

Some of those who had experienced sexual abuse were labelled as being LGBTQ+ because of the gender of their abuser, as opposed to being allowed to define themselves in the way they prefer.

There were also cases of male victims being accused of ‘inviting’ the abuse because of being seen as ‘effeminate’.

“I’m in my late 50s … My generation grew up being told to keep quiet. As a younger person I was told the abuse was a result of being homosexual along with all the negative language being used at the time,” another survivor told the Inquiry.

Society was found to be heteronormative and cisnormative in the conclusion of the report, as well as based on a deeply homophobic history.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse based its report on 31 LGBTQ+ victims and survivors, as well as testament from an array of support services and organisations that provide child sexual abuse and sexual violence support services.

A final report is expected to be completed later this year. You can learn more here.

Galop is an LGBTQ+ charity there for those who have experienced abuse or have been the victim of a hate crime. They can be contacted Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm on 0207 7042040 or at HateCrime@galop.org.uk. You can find out more about them here.