Child sex abuse victims saw lockdown ‘setback’ as face-to-face therapy postponed
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 September 2020
A sex abuse charity has warned children receiving support for trauma have been “set back” by lockdown as the service was forced to cut face-to-face contact.
Norfolk and Suffolk charity Fresh Start new beginnings (FSNB) said the lack of therapy during lockdown meant children lost the support they relied on as a way of processing their abuse.
According to the charity, this has caused a huge backlog in referrals - with two new child sexual abuse workers (CSAs) being recruited purely to “bring down the waiting list”.
Since lockdown was lifted, FSNB has seen a 50pc increase in referrals - but expects this figure to grow as children return to schools and teachers notice signs of abuse.
Pippa, who has asked us not to reveal her surname, is a CSA worker with FSNB.
She said the victims she helps regressed when the country went into lockdown as feelings of loneliness were intensified.
She said: “One young girl who had been abused by a member of her family felt what lots of children feel when they are sexually abused - that it was their fault.
“When she came to FSNB, she felt anxious that the abuser or someone else may hurt her - and this impacted her confidence.
“As she felt so alone, she began to shut herself off from friends and family, and was self-harming as a way of coping. She was considering suicide.
“She began to talk with me about her trauma before lockdown, but faced a setback when face to face sessions stopped.
“We continued to talk via phone calls, text messages and Facetime until face-to-face sessions could resume.
“She has since completed her treatment and knows that she was absolutely not to blame for the abuse.”
MORE: Spotting the signs of child abuse
Pippa, who will have therapy sessions with three or four children each day, has had to “adapt” to new ways of working due to coronavirus.
FSNB said: “Some children we see need 20 therapy sessions based on the level of trauma.
“But throughout the pandemic, we provided advice via parents because communicating with a toddler by telephone is not easy in the best of circumstances.
“Our CSA workers were also able to hold video sessions with teenagers who feel comfortable doing this.
“We are in the middle of creating a clear plan should the country go into lockdown again.
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