More than 200 historic sex abuse cases have been unearthed following research conducted by a lay committee in Portugal.
The committee has been assembled to investigate sexual abuse within the Portuguese Catholic Church; 214 people filed allegations during the first month, following the formation of the group in January 2022. #
The allegations span generations, from those born in 1933 to 2006, exposing decades of trauma and heartbreak.
Prior to the formation of the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church, some instances of sexual abuse had been kept a secret for almost 89 years.
According to the committee - who are merely studying instances of child abuse, as opposed to launching formal investigations - many of the children may have been abused by the same victim.
In a statement, the committee said: "This suffering is associated with feelings of shame, fear, guilt and self-exclusion, reinforcing the idea of lives where the sensation of 'standing on the sidelines' was always present."
Made up of psychiatrists, a social worker and a former Supreme Court judge, the six-person committee will present their findings to the Portuguese Bishops' conference at the end of 2022.
Victims are ensured total anonymity when filing their allegations. Statements can be shared online, via the committee's website, by phone, or in face-to-face interviews.
As most of the allegations have been received through online methods, the committee is attempting to reach people in more rural communities via charities and parish councils.
However, a number of victims are believed to have moved overseas. Allegations have come in from a number of countries with large Christian immigrant communities, such as the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.