More needs to be done to support women facing the lasting legacy of childhood abuse and trauma, according to Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, in light of the first ever figures from the Crime Survey England and Wales into people’s experiences of childhood abuse.
The survey found that women were significantly more likely to have experienced all types of abuse except physical abuse as children – in particular women were four times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse as children than men. The survey also found that people who lived in the most disadvantaged areas, who had illnesses or disabilities, and who were single parents were much more likely to have been abused in childhood.
Agenda’s own research shows that women who experience the most extensive abuse in childhood and adulthood face extremely high levels of poverty, illness, and other forms of disadvantage, with more than half having a diagnosable mental health problem . Agenda is calling for better funding of specialist services for women who have experienced extensive abuse, as well as more recognition of issues around abuse in mainstream services.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, Director of Agenda, said:
“Childhood abuse leaves a lasting legacy that can affect someone throughout their lives.
“Experiencing trauma as a child can have huge knock-on effects on women’s health, finances, and families, and make them targets for future abuse.
“Our research shows 1.2 million women in England have been repeatedly physically and sexually abused as a child and as an adult, and too often they get no support.
“We urge the government to fund specialist services for survivors of childhood abuse, and make sure mainstream services are set up to recognise and support them.”
 Hidden Hurt: Violence, abuse and wider disadvantage in the lives of women, DMSS Research for Agenda, 2016. The research builds on previous Department of Health funded analysis of data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) conducted by the Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit, DMSS and NatCen Social Research. Population patterns in violence, abuse and mental health in England, Scott, S; Williams, J; McNaughton Nicholls, C; Lovett, J; McManus, S (2015) NatCen: London. APMS
Notes to editors
Agenda is an alliance of more than 60 organisations who have come together to campaign for change for women and girls at risk. We believe society is failing to adequately protect and support women and girls who face the most extensive violence, abuse, trauma and extreme inequality.
We are calling for systems and services to be redesigned with women and girls at their heart so that they can access the support they need to rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. www.weareagenda.org.
DMSS Research conducts research and evaluation with a focus on gender, sexual violence, mental health and services for women, children and young people. www.dmss.co.uk
The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) is a high quality, general population survey of 7,500 adults living in private households across England. The survey includes screens and assessments for a range of mental health disorders and is the primary data source for National Statistics on trends in the nation’s mental health.