TRUSTEES of a Bournemouth children’s charity have called for more support for victims after hearing the stories of three girls who were abused by their grandfather.
Representatives of Acts Fast also appealed for more funding to help support those affected.
The Daily Echo has been running a series of reports about the three girls, aged nine to 14, who spoke out in the hope that other children will not go through the same ordeal.
The girls and their parents approached the Daily Echo to tell of the years of abuse they suffered at the hands of their grandfather, who has been jailed for 12 years.
Dr Andrew Mayers, chair of Trustees and a psychologist at Bournemouth University, said: “We are shocked and saddened by the details of this story. We feel deeply for the three girls who were sexually by their grandfather, but are also very concerned about their family, the parents, grandmother, and extended family members. All too often the impact of child sexual abuse upon the entire family is overlooked.”
He said the case illustrates many issues, including the need for better training in schools and long-term support for victims.
“We need to have better training in schools to spot children who may currently be experiencing sexual grooming or abuse. Recognising signs earlier, and acting upon that, is likely to reduce the impact of the abuse and perhaps prevent it escalating. We also need to look how we educate children about what behaviour from adults is appropriate.
“There is considerable evidence about the impact that child sexual abuse has on the child over time. A child who has been sexually abused is at increased risk of developing eating disorders, personality disorders, emotional difficulties, and poor mental health. The child is also significantly more likely to show serious problems with behaviour, social interaction, attachment, and learning. The risk of self-harm and suicidal acts is also dramatically increased. Acts Fast will work with families to help mitigate some of these risks factors through counselling, support and referral to expert professional help.”
Dr Mayers said members of the victims’ extended family often experience mental health problems and distance themselves from the local community and that support needs to go on for many years, not just until a court case is over.
“Not long after the completion of a court prosecution, the books are effectively closed. The courts, social services, police, and mental health services soon pull away. This leaves the family unsupported” said Dr Mayers.
“Specialist counselling is difficult to locate, although we are fortunate to have access to a young person’s counselling service that was funded by Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner. There are very few support services for the family at all. At Acts Fast, we aim to provide some of these services and refer to others.”
He said providing such support is expensive and that funding and community grants are constantly sought. He also said the charity would also welcome any public financial support.
Anyone who wishes to talk to someone about the issues raised can call the following numbers for help.
NSPCC: 0808 800 5000
Childline: 0800 1111
Acts Fast: 01202 797217
Kidscape: 0207 730 3300
Supportline: 01708 765200
The Mix: 0808 808 4994