Leading conversations about Child Sexual Abuse through survivor-led training, campaigning and support.
Breaking stigma is another form of prevention. It is the stigma that creates shame. Shame leads to silence and silence is the cause of the taboo. Abuse, the abused and the perpetrators hide in the shadows.Sophie Olson
The Flying Child is a survivor-led, non-profit organisation, founded by Sophie Olson – a survivor of intrafamilial CSA. Our core aim is to normalise speaking about child sexual abuse, in society, in professional settings and within the survivor community itself.
The statistics are high, yet stigma and shame silence the majority.
The recent IICSA report estimates that around 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 20 boys are sexually abused before the age of 16.
There are an estimated 11 million survivors in the UK (Radford et al) so we know there will be many in need of support. However, CSA is a highly taboo subject. Survivors who do speak out are often faced with negative or inadequate responses to disclosure, including from those who consider themselves ‘trauma-informed’.
The Flying Child’s purpose is to challenge all of this in a number of ways:
With Sexual Abuse and mandatory reporting finally being recognised politically, it is important to make sure all are trained to recognise early signs of abuse and manage disclosure in the best way possible. Mandatory reporting is one of the key recommendations for change made by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA). Would you know how to navigate that process in a way that doesn’t retraumatise the child?
Lived experience training breaks down barriers in a unique way. Without our voices we remain sterile statistics. We are case studies. We are ‘other people’. We are ‘somewhere else’. It is harder to turn away from us, and therefore the subject of Child Sexual Abuse when we are standing right in front of you. It also challenges the stereotypes and misconceptions that lead to so many being misunderstood, judged, pathologised and inappropriately supported.
The reason The Flying Child exists at all is because of the professional curiosity of a headteacher who asked Sophie the questions people tend not to ask.
What barriers do you think stood in the way of disclosure? What indicators do you think you showed? What could the staff have done better?
Our training began in education and we are now recognised UK wide, offering bespoke training across many professional sectors including social work, foster care, midwives, in dentistry and the NHS. We work independently as an organisation but also as consultants for Barnardo’s and in partnership with AC Education and SARSAS.
Peer support groups have played a major, positive role in lives of those of us with CSA lived experience at The Flying Child. Having the opportunity to make connections within the survivor community helped us to build strength, solidarity and voice, and reduce feelings of shame and isolation. It was always part of the plan to set up groups for adult survivors of CSA and they are now up and running.
Since we began in 2020, The Flying Child has joined in with, or supported the following campaigns:
Find out more about Sophie Olson by listening to her story on BBC Radio 4’s The Last Taboo:
Listen now: An interview with Sophie Olson and SARSAS
The Flying Child book: Coming soon…