A private hearing – talking about child sexual abuse

Were you subjected to sexual abuse during your childhood or adolescence, i.e. did those offences occur before you were 18? Or are you a witness, e.g. a nursery school teacher, a teacher, a trainer or a social worker? A private hearing is one way in which you can report this to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Issues.

What is a private hearing?

The main focus of the work of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Issues centres on private hearings with survivors. Even though the name sounds very formal in German: it has nothing to do with an interrogation. It’s not like being with the police. You don’t have to provide any evidence that your story is true. We will believe you! Confidential hearings are discussions that are held in a safe and secure environment and they last for approximately two hours. They can be held on-site or as a video call. The hearings are conducted by two members from the reappraisal inquiry or by hearing officers. During hearings, it is the people participating who decide what they want to say and what they do not want to say. There is no right or wrong here.

What is the exact procedure and what happens to the story after the hearing?

1st step: Registering
Please provide us with some initial information about yourself byregistering online. Alternatively, your contact details and information can also be provided by a person you trust (e.g. partner, psychotherapist).
We would also like to know the time period in which the abuse occurred and whether it happened in the family or in an institution. We need this information so that we can prepare the hearings correctly. It has no other purpose. The following applies at all times: You decide what you want to complete.
Please read our privacy policy information regarding private hearings before registering. In this policy we explain our purpose for collecting details from confidential hearings and how we process it. The Inquiry provides an option for holding private hearings online through a video call as an alternative to on-site interviews. You will find more detailed informationhere.

1. You can report on your experience in various ways:

Private hearing (this could also be a video call)

2. Register using the online form or by telephone.

3. You can make an appointment for a private hearing with inquiry members or hearing officers.

4. The Inquiry will handle all stories confidentially and keep them securely.

5. The Inquiry will publish its findings and survivor stories without giving names or locations.

The hearing was a very valuable experience for me that also helped me to come to terms with my past. It’s important to realise that you’re not being judged for what happened.


Read here what those affected said about their hearing after the confidential discussion with the Commission.

In which area did the survivors experience sexual violence?

Child sexual abuse occurs in all areas where children are present. The infographic shows how many of those who reported to the Inquiry were exposed to sexual violence and in which area. It might have occurred in just one area or even in several.

2,038 hearings and reports were evaluated. More than two-thirds (67%) of the survivors named the family as the context of the child sexual abuse offence. Institutions were named as the context in 31% of contacts, the social environment in 18%, organised structures (including organised ritual structures) in 14% and external perpetrators in 7% of the cases. Multiple answers were possible here.

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