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Survivors call for action to find Scotland’s missing victims ahead of historic abuse inquiry

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Dave Sharp, survivor and spokesperson for SAFE, is campaigning for justice

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SURVIVORS of historic sexual abuse are today making a plea for more to be done to find Scotland’s missing abuse victims.

Seek and Find Everyone Abused in Childhood, also known as SAFE, has made the call to action with only two weeks left before the formal inquiry into historic abuse starts taking evidence.

SAFE, a group of survivors who have set aside their own time and money to campaign on this issue, want to send a message to all those survivors who are too afraid to speak out.

Survivor and spokesperson for SAFE, Dave Sharp, said: “We understand that victims are looking for like-minded people to connect with. Survivors are looking for people who understand their vulnerabilities and uncertainties and SAFE wants to help them find a path to justice and to have their voice heard.”

Sharp explained that just before last Christmas John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the abuse inquiry, said that there are roughly 2500 survivors of historical institutional child abuse in Scotland but he wants to know what he has done to find them.

“It’s so important that as many people as possible come forward and we need the help of politicians but also of communities across the country to make that happen,” he added.

“Not only is this the last chance for many old people who have suffered for years to have their voice heard, it is also the best time for survivors to come forward because there are more professional bodies than ever before to help and that is the message we want to give out.

“Some of us met with the police earlier this year and we were assured that they have the resources and the manpower to deal with survivors, and to pass them onto organisations that can walk with them through the process of having their voice heard and seeking justice.”

Sharp’s calls were backed by Mary Robertson, a survivor of family and in-care abuse.

She said: “Thousands of people are still living in shame and fear that their secret will get out. The shame is not theirs to bear. When I first disclosed and felt believed a great burden was lifted from me. I started to look people in the eye, when previously I was scared and felt I had a huge label on my head. Future generations should not have to suffer with the shame like I did for many years.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: “The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been engaging with survivors through private sessions for many months and is also taking evidence from others with valuable information. It is currently investigating 69 institutions as part of its initial investigations.

“As Lady Smith stated at the preliminary hearing, we will not be sharing the numbers of those contacting the inquiry on an ongoing basis. We have been pleased with the response to date but, importantly, as work of the inquiry continues, we still want to hear from people who have been affected.

“We would encourage anyone who has relevant information, whether they have been abused themselves or know others who have, to get in touch.”

SAFE’s campaign to find Scotland’s missing voices was also given full backing by leading abuse charity Wellbeing Scotland.

Wellbeing’s chief executive Janine Rennie said: “John Swinney referred to over 2000 people abused in care and Police Scotland have mentioned a figure closer to 5000. The Inquiry has seen extremely low numbers come forward in comparison to that figure and therefore cannot be seen as reflecting the scale or impact of abuse in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government said that ministers meet survivors and their representatives regularly, and that, where permission was given, those involved are being updated on progress made.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have worked incredibly closely with survivors, particularly in recent years as we have established one of the widest-ranging public inquiries Scotland has ever seen and transformed the support available to adults who were abused as children.

“Ministers meet survivors and their representatives regularly. We carried out a large-scale consultation, which allowed people to take part online, in person at numerous events across the country and via a special phone line and received responses from across Scotland and abroad. And where permission for further contact was given, we have kept those involved updated on the progress in this area.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: “The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been engaging with survivors through private sessions for many months and is also taking evidence from others with valuable information. It is currently investigating 69 institutions as part of its initial investigations.

“As Lady Smith stated at the preliminary hearing, we will not be sharing the numbers of those contacting the Inquiry on an ongoing basis. We have been pleased with the response to date but, importantly, as work of the Inquiry continues, we still want to hear from people who have been affected. We would encourage anyone who has relevant information, whether they have been abused themselves or know others who have, to get in touch.”

Anyone wishing to contact the Inquiry can do so using the following methods

The Inquiry also keeps its website up to date with news and information about its progress and rules. The website address is www.childabuseinquiry.scot

We Thank the  Source of the  original story which has been republished on this site.

http://www.thenational.scot/news/15289768.Survivors_call_for_action_to_find_Scotland_s_missing_victims_ahead_of_historic_abuse_inquiry/

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