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‘Counselling was my lifeline’

A major report by the Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse (CSA Centre) has reported that tens of thousands of child sexual abuse victims face long waits for vital support they need to recover from the trauma of their experiences, with children waiting 6 to 12 months to access counselling.

The CSA Centre estimates that at least 500,000 children will experience some form of sexual abuse each year and the Government says it wants every victim to be able access support quickly but acknowledges there is more to do.

This support can be lifesaving.

Meet Thalia, 23.  After being sexually assaulted on a family holiday in Jamacia at the age of 14, Thalia was referred to Embrace Child Victims of Crime and Jackie, Thalia’s counsellor at Embrace, played a huge role in her healing journey.

Thalia says: “My counsellor Jackie was amazing.  I really don’t think I would be here today if she hadn’t supported me through it.  Jackie was impartial and she helped me work through and understand my feelings and plan for the future.  Helping find coping mechanisms which has not only helped me through this awful situation, but also helped me through life.  She saved my life.  She helped me understand that things would get better, I would recover, and I would be able to move on with my life.  But at the time it was so hard.  What you are going through, it feels like it will never end, and you’ll never feel happy again.”

Thalia’s story is one of triumph.  She recently graduated from Sheffield Halam University with a master’s degree in international business and marketing and is a proud recipient of the Inspirational Student Award for two-years running.  Thalia is the founder of Offiss Ltd which provides office space to smaller start-up businesses in Cannock, Staffordshire.

But it could have been different, if Thalia had not been able to access support for herself and her family.   You can read Thalia’s full story on our website.

Embrace is a charity that provides free support to children and young people harmed by crime, but like many charities in the sector demand for our services is high and long-term funding uncertain.  In the last three months along we have supported 170 young survivors of sexual abuse and online exploitation and we know there are more that need our help.

Changes to the Victims and Prisoners Bill to fully recognise the rights and needs of children harmed by crime is a step in the right direction, but until these services are properly funded by the Government charities are not going to be able to meet the demand there unfortunately is.