Victim and survivor voice groups

What is it?

  • Victims and survivors are a vital part of understanding the impact and best responses to CSEA online. With their consent and supported active participation throughout, it can be possible for them to advocate for change, including behaviour change, systems change and technology infrastructure change.
  • With informed consent, it may be possible to work with victims and survivors to share their stories and/or advocate for change, as well as design programming and support services, campaigns and strategy.

Why is it important?

  • Victims and survivors have the most authentic understanding and experience of child sexual abuse. This experience is important to inform responses, raise awareness and shape policy.
  • Victims and survivors can shape and design responses and services as leaders with lived experiences.
  • Victim and survivor groups can bring together children / young adults with similar experiences of online sexual abuse and provide a safe space for them to share challenges, fears and opportunities, build relationships with others who have similar experiences. It can be an important part of the recovery pathway.
  • Victim and survivor voice groups can be a (supervised and safe) forum for peer-to-peer psychological first aid and mental health support for child sexual abuse.
  • Victim and survivor groups, combined with the procedures and actions listed in capabilities 9, 11 and 12, can help give child victims and survivors more confidence, control and power over important choices within their lives.

How can it be implemented?

  • Provide opportunities (including anonymously initially if required) for child victims to share or report their experiences of online sexual abuse. This must be accompanied by a process of rolling and informed consent based on age-appropriate and accessible language.  
  • Provide a personalised response by a qualified professional to acknowledge the report and respond accordingly. Initial response should ensure that the child is no longer in immediate harm and that any necessary crisis response services have been provided. (See capability 9).
  • Create a forum location (online or offline) and share details with children on why they may want to engage with peers who have had similar experiences, how to engage, and who they will engage with (one adult with professional psychosocial qualifications should always be present).
  • Set rules for the discussions and advise a focus on safe discussions, mutual respect, listening and engendering a supportive environment.
  • Work with consenting children to develop anonymous stories that can be shared publicly. Engage communications and advocacy specialists to share the stories in different ways, through various media to target different audiences, where in the best interests of the child to do so.

Further resources:

UNICEF, Ethical Research for Children, Reporting for Children