Reporting to the police that you have been a victim of child sexual abuse is a huge decision. Many adult survivors carry the burden of their abuse for years before deciding to speak out, and some never do.
Understanding what happens once police are contacted can help a victim of child sexual abuse make a more informed decision, and one which is the right decision for them as an individual.
Operation Hydrant, the national policing operation in response to non-recent child sexual abuse, and Police Scotland have developed a short, animated film aimed at providing supportive information to adult victims and survivors of child abuse who may be thinking of reporting to police and wondering what comes next.
Based on two fictional characters, both of whom are survivors of child abuse, the film takes the viewer on an educational journey from understanding what child abuse is, to providing information on the reporting process, the criminal justice process, and the support available.
The film, which runs for just less than 8 minutes, will answer the following questions:
• What is child abuse?
• Why should I make a report to the police?
• How can I report my abuse to the police?
• What happens after I make a report to the police?
• Who decides if the case will go to court?
• What happens if I have to go to court?
• What support is available?
The film is designed for adult survivors of childhood abuse, and the information within it is relevant to all types of child abuse including neglect and physical abuse.
The film was supported by the prosecuting bodies for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, and is generic in its messaging, and relevant to an adult survivor of childhood abuse from anywhere within the UK.
Policing recognises that not every victim or survivor of child abuse will feel ready, feel able, or even want to report to the police.
However, it is important that all victims and survivors can make an informed decision and know that if they do choose to contact police, they will be listened to, believed, and taken seriously, and their options and what happens next will be explained to them. This animation supports victims and survivors of childhood abuse in making the right decision for them.
Policing is committed to thoroughly investigating allegations of child abuse, no matter how long ago the offences may have occurred. Investigations are impartial, and will seek out any available evidence without fear or favour. The priority for any investigation will always be safeguarding.