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.

million people

Around one in five adults aged 16 to 59 (an estimated 6.2 million people) have experienced some form of abuse as a child, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) for the year ending March 2016 ONS Crime Survey  

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 

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.

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

More than one in ten women and 3% of men in England & Wales were sexually assaulted during childhood. (ONS Crime Survey for England + Wales, March 2016)
Adult survivors of child abuse are almost twice as likely to have a long-standing illness or disability compared to non-child abuse victims – 28% vs 15% – (ONS Crime Survey for England + Wales, 2016). It is not known whether they had the long-term illness or disability at the time of the child abuse or not, nor whether it was caused by the abuse. ONS Crime Survey, 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. CSA Centre

It is estimated that only one in eight victims of sexual abuse come to the attention of statutory authorities (Children’s Commissioner 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).


One in three children sexually abused by an adult did not tell anyone (Radford, 2011).

Some children did disclose abuse when still young but were not heard or no action was taken (Allnock and Miller, 2013; Lampard and Marsden, 2015).


Over 90% of sexually abused children were abused by someone they knew (Radford, 2011).

There are an estimated minimum of 11 million adult survivors of contact and non-contact child sexual abuse in the UK (Radford et al).

NAPAC receives hundreds of contacts per week from adult survivors of child abuse.

Child sexual abuse costs the UK £3.2bn a year (Radford)


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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