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Turning away:
How and why do societies and communities deny, distance and minimise
child sexual abuse? - and what we can do about it?

‘We abhor child sexual abuse in the abstract, but we tolerate it in reality.’ (Suzanne Sgroi, 1978)

Denial, distancing and minimisation are not uncommon positions towards sexual abuse. People find ways of looking the other way, ‘reframing’ it, or applying illogically high thresholds for their belief. This talk delineates this broad problematic stance towards sexual abuse, looks at its existence in British society and communities, and then goes on to explore how and why it arises, the harm it causes, and what can be done about it. It ends with a discussion of what societal ‘acknowledgment’ could look like and various pathways towards it.

Dr Elly Hanson is an independent Clinical Psychologist who seeks to contribute to the prevention and cessation of abuse and reducing its impact.  She undertakes consultation, research, training, and psychological assessments, working primarily with law enforcement, social work teams, and the voluntary sector. Her publications include chapters on the impact of online sexual abuse, therapeutic approaches for child and adult survivors, and preventing revictimization. She was on the panel of the Children's Commissioner for England’s Inquiry into sexual abuse within the family environment (CSAFE), and has worked therapeutically with adult survivors of abuse in an NHS substance misuse service, children and young people with problematic sexual behaviour in an NSPCC service, and looked after children.


‘The Truth Project’ - the story so far and hopes for the future

Fay Maxted OBE   “for services to Survivors and victims of rape and sexual violence”.

Fay has been CEO of the Survivors Trust since 2004. She serves on the National Police Chief Council for Rape (Response) Working Group; she is also on the Panel for the Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the family environment and July 2017, she was appointed to the V&SCP (Victims & Survivors Consultative Panel) of the independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse

Fay with a colleague will give an up to date report on the Truth Project, the impact it is having on Survivors who are being supported to tell their stories and how it is hoped the outcomes will influence the future.

Developing services in the fields of Complex Trauma, Abuse and Dissociation.
Where are we and where should we be going?

Developing services in the fields of Complex Trauma, Abuse and Dissociation.

Where are we and where should we be going?

Dr Rachel Thomas: Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Consultant Adult Psychotherapist, CEO CDS UK (Clinic for Dissociative Studies).

Dissociative patients cause dissociative professional systems and organisations to be created around them. Disavowal of the horror of these patients’ reported life experience can also result in closed, denying, professional systems around these patients, with the projected dynamic of victim-perpetrator-bystander at its heart.

I will be asking therefore: how can we, as a group of committed professionals in this complex field, develop services for these patients nationally that do not dissociate from the powerful unconscious dynamics that accompany them?

I will use the model of the ‘Healthy Organisation’ (Stokoe, 2011) to bring psychodynamic understanding and organisational systems theory together to address the question of how we can educate and disseminate our knowledge and expertise more widely and nationally. In looking at what we need to do, I will address also what we need not to avoid and describe how a model of the institutional containment of anxiety can inform how we may enable this subject to become nationally recognised.

Dr Thomas is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Consultant Adult Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist who has been working in complex mental health settings for more than 20 years. She is currently the CEO of CDS UK (Clinic for Dissociative Studies), a national, specialist, tertiary provider for the assessment and treatment of patients with dissociative disorders, their parents and families. Prior to this, she worked as a senior Psychologist and Psychotherapist for ten years at both the Tavistock Clinic and The Women’s Therapy Centre in London. She is also a leading UK Expert Witness in cases of complex trauma.