23 MAY 2019

Intervention in debate on survivors of sexual abuse

John Howell (Henley) (Con)

The hon. Lady is making an excellent point. Of course, we have all seen many sufferers of sexual violence live with that for years and years, unable to express it, until a sudden trigger point means that they can come forward and say what has happened. Will she review those trigger points, so we understand them and can encourage them? Can she also tell us what she would recommend to encourage people to come forward as early as possible to discuss such issues? The earlier they are discussed, the easier it will be for the person involved.

Sarah Champion

The hon. Gentleman makes profound points that go to the nub of the argument. If survivors had confidence that the system would support them, I genuinely believe that they would come forward earlier. ​Early intervention is key—having a few sessions where people are listened to and fundamentally believed, and can then continue with the rest of their lives.

What tends to happen, however, as the hon. Gentleman has alluded to, is that survivors do not have that trust, so it can take decades for them to come forward, if they ever do. As a result, the spectre hanging over them infiltrates every aspect of their life. A trigger can be anything—the same aftershave that their abuser was wearing or a feeling of being enclosed in a space—so unless we address the actual issues and recognise that these people are victims of crime, they will not be able to lead their full lives and reach the potential that we all deserve to achieve.

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