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Religious settings second most common place for child abuse among institutions, after schools

An inquiry into historical child sexual abuse has found that among over 5,000 people, schools were the most likely place for a child to have been abused if it was within an institution, followed by religious institutions and then children's homes. 

The Truth Project, which is part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, is documenting people's experiences so they can inform the recommendations in the IICSA's final report in 2022. 

More than 5,400 survivors of child sexual abuse have shared their experience and 5,104 personal accounts have been analysed for research purposes.

Fifteen per cent said their abuse was in a school setting and six per cent said it was in a religious setting. Sixty per cent said it was not in an institution or they did not know, with 48 per cent saying the abuser was a family member. 

Many people have allowed their stories to be published under different names to help encourage others to tell people. 


One man tells of how he was abused by a priest in the Church of Ireland, another man was abused as a boy by a curate which led to him losing his faith. 

'Camilla' was raped by a prominent member of her church and says that when she reported the abuse "they tried to make me feel that it was all in my imagination". He was eventually convicted but she still lives with mental health problems. 

One woman was sexually abused as a teenager by a married youth worker in her church who became a minister and went on to work in another youth organisation. He was later told he couldn't work with children anymore. 

Those who gave their story spoke of sexual abuse taking place across a range of institutions such as schools, religious settings and residential care, as well as healthcare and sports settings. 

More than a third were between four and seven when the abuse began and one in ten people were disclosing the information for the first time.

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