Issues and Findings

Survivors can report their experiences of violence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Issues through confidential hearings, written reports, workshops and public hearings. Survivor stories are diverse. However, they clearly show that the consequences of their experiences can be seen in the lives of many of the survivors. This knowledge from the Inquiry’s work is summarised in the key issues. All of the issue pages are now available in English.

Key issues


Those with disabilities have an increased risk of experiencing sexual violence during childhood and adolescence. The Inquiry would like to close gaps in its knowledge of this.

Former GDR

Child sexual abuse was a huge taboo in the former GDR. It occurred in homes and other closed institutions as well as in the family.


Sexual violence against children and adolescents most often occurs within the family. Siblings are also perpetrators as well as fathers, mothers, grandfathers or uncles.


One focus of the Inquiry’s work is investigating child sexual abuse in institutions run by the Catholic and Protestant churches.

Organised and ritual violence

Child sexual abuse in organised and ritual structures involves violence against and the exploitation of children and adolescents by perpetrators who are known and networked to each other.

Paedosexual networks

Survivors have also reported to the Inquiry about child sexual abuse in paedosexual groups that have publicly campaigned for impunity since the 1970s from sexual acts committed by them with children and adolescents.


Schools play a role in many of the hearings and reports entrusted to the Inquiry by survivors. Those who have survived sexual violence thematise schools in different ways: as a possible safe place, as an educational place as well as a crime scene.


Sexualised violence in sport is largely taboo. It occurs in both competitive and recreational sport. The perpetrators often exploit the strong relationships of dependency and trust with the children and adolescents to prey on them.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Survivors and witnesses who were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have reported to the Inquiry about specific rules and structures within the religious community that impede the prevention of or looking into child sexual abuse.

Comprehensive findings

People with a (family) history of immigration

This Inquiry is firmly convinced that sexualised violence against children and adolescents occurs with similar frequency throughout all social classes and backgrounds. We would like to know more about whether people who have experienced discrimination due to their ethnic background experience specific obstacles when it comes to disclosing abuse or receiving help and support. This is why we would like to invite those with a history of immigration, in particular, to tell us their stories.

Survival and the silence of others

What did the survivors do in childhood to survive sexual abuse? Were you helped and who supported you?

Resistance to talking about abuse

Why do survivors often encounter resistance from those around them when they want to talk about the child sexual abuse they have experienced and reveal it?

Consequences of sexual violence and coping with them

The consequences of sexual violence have a long-lasting effect. Today’s adult survivors have found different ways to cope with their experiences.

Working with survivors

Survivors report discrimination as well as insensitive treatment during compensation procedures or when they seek support from public offices or authorities.

Sensitivity in the criminal justice system

How sensitive and child-friendly are criminal proceedings or investigations into child sexual abuse? What needs to be improved and what needs more attention paid to it?

Legal aspects

Legal issues regularly arise in reappraisal projects, e.g. regarding data protection, personal rights and the right to free speech.

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