The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) this week begins the Nottinghamshire Council Investigation. The Inquiry chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, is examining many instances of child sexual abuse and will spend the next three weeks considering evidence relating to abuse in the Nottinghamshire area.
The abuse team at Farleys have represented victims of abuse in the Nottinghamshire area for a number of years and have also appeared before the IICSA to give evidence on the claims process generally and the operation of the CICA.
Today we attended the Inquiry in Nottingham as a legal team supporting N1, a survivor of abuse at Beechwood and Wollaton House Children’s Homes.
N1 gave powerful evidence about the childhood abuse that she had suffered and the impact it had on her life.
N1 was received into Local Authority care as a 12 year old. She was already known to Social Services and was vulnerable having been sexually abused previously.
She described to the Inquiry the culture of violence that prevailed at Beechwood House. Beatings of children by staff were commonplace. Fights between children were organised for the enjoyment of staff.
N1 went on to describe sexual abuse by a male member of staff. She was groomed and given privileges including cigarettes. Her abuser then made her perform sex acts and ultimately raped her on at least three occasions.
N1 bravely described how she had no one to turn to and no pastoral support. It was only when a school teacher took an interest in her that she began to express her emotions. Until that point she did not even know how to cry.
N1 went on to tell the Inquiry about the impact the abuse has had on her life. As we find with many victims of abuse it was only when her daughter reached the age of 12, which was the age at which she had been abused, that she realised how badly she had been treated. She resolved to do something about it and was a key witness in the prosecution of her abuser.
N1, with the help of Counsel to the Inquiry explained what she would like to happen in the future. She believes that the early provision of counselling is essential to help victims. Children in care should have someone they can talk to ideally independent of the Local Authority.
N1 now shares her experiences to help others often giving presentations for support groups. She has turned her life around, earned a degree and now looks forward rather than backwards.
The IICSA will continue to hear evidence from Nottinghamshire abuse survivors and Farleys will continue to attend as representatives of core participants both in Nottingham and London. It is hoped that the valuable testimony of survivors like N1 will help guide the Inquiry in the recommendations they ultimately make for reform of this difficult area of law.
The legal team representing N1 are Ariella Jones and Jonathan Bridge of Farleys, instructing Sam Stein QC and Chris Jacobs of Counsel.
If you have been affected by abuse and wish to discuss matter in confidence please do not hesitate to contact us. Call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.