Providing a platform for change and empowering the voices of survivors

Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

1 July 2021

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

No one understands the unique needs of survivors of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) better than those who have been victims of this horrific crime. In order to learn about the life-long impacts of having images of their abuse distributed online from victims around the world, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children, has launched two new surveys for survivors and their parents.

The second edition of C3P’s International Survivors’ Survey, and the new Survey for Protective Parents, seek to further understand the challenges survivors and their families face – from the blocks they encounter to achieving mental and physical wellbeing, to safety concerns (such as being stalked by online offenders for years after the abuse), to trying to get CSAM removed from the internet. Learning from survivors is crucial to understanding the gaps in supports and services.

“The world needs to hear the reality these survivors deal with every single day, and how the continued sharing of their abuse material online impacts all aspects of their lives,” says Lianna McDonald, executive director of C3P. “We are extremely grateful to the brave survivors who have already shared their experiences with us. It is only through their voices that we can better understand how to support victims and their families, as well as protect other children from being exploited.”

In 2016, C3P released the first iteration of the International Survivors’ Survey, which was completed by more than 150 people from around the world. The results underscored the urgent need for the international community to take immediate action and implement recommendations. These included: improving education and training around the issue of child sexual abuse; developing comprehensive systems to support the unique rights and needs of victims; and giving survivors a voice in the conversation about the epidemic of online CSAM.

Based on what the survivors shared in the first survey, it changed what the world knew about this unique group of people. This video so powerfully portrays the results. It is critical that we all continue to learn from survivors.

These surveys not only provide a platform for change, but a medium in which survivors’ voices can be empowered to move towards healing. As one survivor stated after finishing the original survey: “Doing this survey means giving a voice not only to my own inner child, but all survivors. This is a new form of abuse that only we as survivors truly understand right now. This survey allowed me a safe place to express thoughts and needs so others know how to help. This survey has left me with hope and relief that healing can be a little easier for myself and others.”

To take the surveys and learn more about C3P’s work with survivors, click here. Surveys are available in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, and German.

This work falls under our Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Programme , where, along with our partners, we are helping to build societies where children are never sexually abused. Read more about the programme strategy here.

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