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The facts about child sexual abuse

Just as practitioners know from their work, research shows an undeniable link between childhood sexual abuse and negative life outcomes, sometimes lifelong.

Since the Savile Inquiry in 2012, services have seen a rise in the number of people talking about abuse they suffered in the past, sometimes many years or even decades ago.

The Government’s definition of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2015) is:

Child sexual abuse (CSA) involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).

“The existence of childhood sexual abuse is often minimised and denied. If we are to improve outcomes for adult survivors, we really need to improve our awareness and understanding of the issues”

Visible Director, 2023

Survivors views


For the Visible project to be as relevant and effective as possible, it’s crucial that survivors are the ones who inform and shape it.

The scale of child sexual abuse

The scale of child sexual abuse has risen in recent years. Find out more about why.

Consequences and impacts of child sexual abuse

Early experiences can greatly affect how the mind of a child or young person develops. Find out more about the impact. 

Types of child sexual abuse

Childhood sexual abuse can take many different forms. Find out the different types here.