Key facts and figures

The following data can only hint at the number of adults who suffered abuse during their childhood and the impact it has had on lives.


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The data behind child abuse

Most sexual abuse isn’t reported, detected or prosecuted. It’s a crime that is usually only witnessed by the abuser and the victim.


In England and Wales

– 9% of adults experienced psychological abuse during childhood.
– 7% suffered physical abuse in childhood
– 7% suffered sexual assault in childhood
– 8% witnessed domestic violence or abuse in the home during childhood

Source: ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales, March 2016 

The Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse (CSA) has been established to help bring about significant and system-wide change in how child sexual abuse is responded to locally and nationally. The CSA Centre has a long-term strand of work to improve understanding of the scale and nature of child sexual abuse. See the CSA Centre Research and Publications

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that affect children while growing up, such as suffering child maltreatment or living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance misuse or mental illness. See the research reports by Public Health Wales on ACEs and their impacts on health and well-being ACEs Hub Wales

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) is in the process of producing a compendium of data sources to provide the best evidence of child abuse; this is planned for publication in 2019. ONS data on crime

Operation Hydrant publish quarterly statistics about investigations into non-recent child sexual abuse involving an institution, organisation or a person of public prominence. Operation Hydrant – national data on police investigations into non-recent child abuse

Last year NAPAC answered over 6,458 calls on our support line and replied to hundreds of support emails. There were nearly 87,619 call attempts to NAPAC’s support line during this period. Demand to NAPAC’s support line has risen substantially, nearly doubling in three years. Find out how you can help us to support more people

NAPAC trained over 600 professionals in 2018 including GPs, safeguarding leads, police, community psychiatric nurses, prison healthcare staff and social workers.

Just one in eight victims of child sexual abuse come to the attention of statutory authorities (Children’s Commissioner 2015). Protecting Children from Harm 2015

Traumatic life experiences can have a significant impact on people’s lives, increasing the risk of poorer physical and mental health and poorer social, educational and criminal justice outcomes. Trauma informed systems can have better outcomes for people affected by trauma. NHS Education for Scotland, May 2017


Child sexual abuse costs the UK £3.2bn a year (Radford et al, 2011)

Other sources of data

ONS (Office of National Statistics) Abuse during childhood: Findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2016 crime survey.
ONS Crime Survey, March 2016

Radford, L. et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today NSPCC

Sneddon, H., Wager, N., Allnock, D. Responding sensitively to survivors of childhood abuse University of Bedfordshire with Victim Support, April 2016. Responding sensitively to survivors of childhood abuse

NHS Education Scotland. National Trauma Training Framework – a trauma informed approach

Focus on Survivors University Campus Suffolk and Suffolk charity Survivors in Transition, July 2016

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Wales – ACEs and their impact on health-harming behaviours in the Welsh adult population 13 January 2016
ACE 2016

Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Resilience Report by Public Health Wales, 18 January 2018. People who have experienced abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as living with domestic violence during their childhood are at much greater risk of mental illness throughout life, but community support can offer protection. Sources of resilience and their moderating relationships with harms from adverse childhood experiences

Allnock, D and Miller, P. (2013) No one noticed, no one heard NSPCC

Lampard, K. and Marsden, E. (2015) Themes and lessons learned from NHS investigations into matters relating to Jimmy Savile Independent report for the Secretary of State for Health

Children’s Commissioner (November 2015) Protecting children from harm: a critical assessment of child sexual abuse in the family network in England and priorities for action

Ainscough, C. and Toon, K. (2000) Breaking Free Workbook – Practical help for survivors of child sexual abuse Sheldon Press, London.  (For suggestions of individual and group exercises).

Gilbert, P. and Proctor, S. Compassionate Mind Training for People with High Shame and Self Criticism: Overview and Pilot Study of a Group Therapy Approach in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy 13, 353-379 (2006) Wiley (free to download at )

Herman, J.L. (1992) Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence. New York, Basic Books

Mendelsohn, M.  et al, (2011) The Trauma Recovery Group: A Guide for Practitioners, New York, The Guildford Press

van der Kolk, B. (2014) The Body Keeps the Score, Penguin Books

Winnicott, D.W (2000, first published in 1964) The Child, the Family and the Outside World  Penguin Psychology


NAPAC faces significant and growing demand for its services to survivors – donating to NAPAC means reaching more survivors with the help and support they need.

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