Since 2016, more than 2,500 people have told the Inquiry about sexual abuse during childhood and adolescence as either survivors or witnesses. Many used written reports, but even more used private hearings. Many people have found it good to confide in the Inquiry. We are publishing some feedback here with the consent of the survivors.

For a long time I wanted to leave my family of origin out of the process of coming to terms with it instead of putting the blame where it belongs.

“It feels so good to be understood with regard to the whole problem of abuse and the consequences of abuse. It is interesting and at the same time depressing to hear that almost 70 percent of the survivors who contacted you have experienced sexualised violence within their families. The estimated number of unreported cases is probably much higher. The sad thing here is that being a survivor means that you have to struggle with feelings of guilt and shame for a long time and later on you become ashamed of your own family in which something like this has happened. For a long time I wanted to leave my family of origin because of the process of coming to terms with it instead of putting the blame where it belongs. For a long time I couldn’t be angry with my parents, who looked the other way and didn’t protect me. I think it’s so great and I thank you so much that you and your entire team are thinking about this huge problem and thinking about how we can prevent it”.

If you can give someone the courage not to give up, that’s very good.

“At some point I thought (…) if I can tell someone, if I can help someone, if I can give someone the courage not to give up and not to think that they don’t deserve to live or that it’s all their own fault, then that would be very good”.

It’s like verifying the whole thing.

“It is important to me that I have to hold on to the fact that my story is true. (…) It’s like verifying the whole issue, if I tell it now and people believe me, then it will help me to consolidate the whole issue, it will help me (…) to get reassurance (…) I think that’s one last good thing to make the ground under my feet more stable”.

I’ve exposed my misery and no longer need to carry it inside me.

“People close to me have told me that opening up to the Inquiry was very courageous. Telling them may seem like it, but it was really necessary. As I say – I’ve exposed my misery and no longer need to carry it inside me. With my permission to publish, my experience will become the basis of a memorial. A memorial that can’t be built big enough”.

Now my story is part of history, no longer just a rock in my stomach.

“I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time how glad I am to have spoken to you. In fact, the hearing was everything I hoped it would be: a kind of magic. I didn’t stick needles in a doll and then burn it. I’ve told my experiences, thoughts and feelings to your understanding ears and they are now out in the world. Now my story is a part of history – no longer just a rock in my stomach, a lump in my throat, images or film scenes in my head. I’ve felt better since then. The letter with your kind words arrived just before Christmas and then came the letter from the Inquiry. The first moments holding the certificate were strange. But now it has become so important to me. There is nothing else that can reflect this part of my life! The green folder reassures me that I have – after a long, long time – really managed to talk about it. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be heard by the Inquiry. To me, it represents the caring, generous, honourable and serious side of the country. Thank you for being there, thank you for your patience, your kindness and for putting up with all of it. The hearing really encouraged me. Now I want to escape from the past and take the next steps in coming to terms with it”.

I was pleased to see how you sympathised.

“Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your letter/reply. I was very pleased with your kind words and also with the fact that you recognise – analyse – think – empathise with it/my story. In my opinion, only those who have experienced such suffering or something similar could do this. It is important to identify how such suffering could be prevented to the best of our ability in the future. To pave the way for the survivors to dare to or motivate them to talk about the past. I will play my small part in this in future. Violence has no place, in any form whatsoever”.

An experience that I can 100% recommend.

“An experience that I wouldn’t want to miss and one that I can 100% recommend. Thank you for the very professional service”.

I was able to calmly drive to the appointment with you.

“Your folder [the Inquiry’s thank you letter after the hearing, editor’s note] was important to me. I think this work is very fundamental. In the days before the hearing I became more and more anxious about what I was going to say and what you [the hearing officer, editor’s note] might think about it, so I did some research into you (that’s what people do these days) and was able to read a lot about the work you do on behalf of survivors. Survivor protection in the sense of prevention as well as how society should treat survivors – that is important to me. As a society, we should always be dealing with this ethically. How we position ourselves regarding this, each and every one of us. And listen to what those who have suffered really need. That’s how I looked at you – and that’s how I was able to calmly drive to the appointment with you to tell you about my circumstances”.

Service hotline processing

Do you have any questions about how a hearing works? How you can register? Or would you like to find out more about the Commission’s work? You can contact us anonymously and free of charge by telephone.

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Graphic with quote: "With my story, I would like to encourage survivors to follow their own path."

Website “Survivors’ voices”

In January 2022, the Inquiry launched a project that is unique in Germany: survivors of sexual abuse inflicted during childhood and adolescence can now tell their stories on the website “Survivors’ voices”. More than 120 reports have been published so far. The portal will be continuously expanded and become a place of remembrance for the life achievements of those survivors.

Webanalyse / Datenerfassung

Das Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend möchte seine Website fortlaufend verbessern. Dazu wird um Ihre Einwilligung in die statistische Erfassung von Nutzungsinformationen gebeten. Die Einwilligung kann jederzeit widerrufen werden.

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