Survivor of child sexual abuse brands NHS support offered as ‘absolutely woeful’

A survivor of child sexual abuse has spoken of the “woeful” support he was offered by the NHS as a new report criticises the lack of help offered to victims.

Ian Ackley (pictured left), who was abused by paedophile football coach Barry Bennell in the early 1980s, called for more funding to help people who have suffered to access mental health services.

The 50-year-old said he was not surprised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse’s report, which found just 16% of survivors of child sexual abuse felt their needs were met by NHS mental health services.

He said he first sought mental health support in the early 1990s after Bennell was arrested, and then required further assistance from a charity when Bennell’s abuse hit the headlines again in 2016.

Last year, Bennell was found guilty of 43 counts of child sexual abuse against 11 victims.

Mr Ackley told the Press Association: “It doesn’t surprise me at all: that’s my experience of those 20 years ago and I didn’t even attempt to go down an NHS route this time.

“I’m fully aware that there’s between a six and 18-month waiting list for face-to-face therapeutic services and even then, the amount of sessions you can access is very restricted.”

He said his first experience of support on the NHS was “absolutely woeful”.

“I got six weeks of cognitive behavioural therapy, six sessions, and really totally inappropriate for the type of trauma I was going through.”

Mr Ackley was able to access support with the mental health charity Sporting Chance when Bennell’s crimes resurfaced in the media three years ago, but he said the “majority” of adult survivors are unable to access the appropriate resources and services.

“There is a lack of funding and a lack of opportunity; it’s certainly a postcode lottery and unfortunately I think it’s something that really needs addressing,” he said.

He said it was “way past time” that the Government invested in the “relevant support services – especially considering it takes a man on average 26 years to disclose”.

Mr Ackley said: “Given the tsunami of disclosures within the sporting arena, never mind the religious arena or education and any others, we’d be naive to think that the numbers of people coming forward would fall anytime soon.”

He continued: “It’s completely wrong of government and society and organisations to say, ‘Come forward, you’ll be heard and you’ll be believed’ only not to underpin that with the relevant support services to get their lives back on track.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Peter Nicholls / PA Wire.