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“Disgusting Details Which Are Best Forgotten”: Disclosures of Child Sexual Abuse in Twentieth-Century Britain

  • Lucy Delap


For those who by the end of the twentieth century came to be termed “survivors” of child sexual abuse, different genres and forms have been available to narrate and evaluate that abuse. This article explores the reception and practical results of such disclosures: the unpredictable effects of telling, and the strategies of containment, silencing, or disbelief that greeted disclosures. I make note of the ethical challenges of writing the history of child sexual abuse and conclude that twenty-first-century observers have been too ready to perceive much of the previous century as a period of profound silence in relation to child sexual abuse. At the same time, historical and sociological accounts have also been too ready to claim the final third of the twentieth century as a period of compulsive disclosure and fluency in constructing sexual selves. The history of child sexual abuse reveals significant barriers to disclosure in the 1970s and 1980s, despite new visibility of child sexual abuse in the media and through feminist sexual politics. Attention to such obstacles suggests the need to rethink narratives of “permissive” sexual change to acknowledge more fully the ongoing inequities and hierarchies in sexual candor and voice.

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1 Felman, Shoshana and Laub, Dori, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (London, 1992), 79 .

2 Names of some historical actors have been changed to protect their privacy.

3 Papers of Gertrude Lind Setchfield, 7GLS, The Women's Library, London School of Economics.

4 Ibid.

5 Allnock, Debbie and Miller, Pam, No One Noticed, No One Heard: A Study of Disclosures of Childhood Abuse (London, 2013).

6 Gordon, Linda, “The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Notes from American History,” in “Family Secrets: Child Sexual Abuse,” special issue, Feminist Review, no. 28 (Spring 1988): 5664 , at 60.

7 No claim can be made about the representativeness of the sources examined, though their predominant focus on abuse within the family by individuals known to the child match estimates of wider prevalence of child sexual abuse. Major public inquiries have similarly struggled to be able to assess what is a representative sample. See Sköld, Johanna, “The Truth about Abuse? A Comparative Approach to Inquiry Narratives on Historical Institutional Child Abuse,” in “Marginalized Children: Methodological and Ethical Issues in the History of Education and Childhood,” special issue, History of Education 45, no. 4 (May 2016): 492509 , at 505–6.

8 Hacking, Ian, “The Making and Molding of Child Abuse,” Critical Inquiry 17, no. 2 (Winter 1991): 253–88.

9 Concerns over sexual offences against children gained a brief high profile through W. T. Stead's “Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,” a series of articles published in the Pall Mall Gazette in 1885. See Gorman, Deborah, “The ‘Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’ Re-Examined: Child Prostitution and the Idea of Childhood in Late-Victorian England,” Victorian Studies 21, no. 3 (Spring 1978): 353–79. Nonetheless, the Liberal MP Frank Briant still noted a reluctance to acknowledge the topic (Briant, House of Commons debate 12 July 1923, Hansard, vol. 166, cc1629-91.) Two departmental committees—in 1925 (Sexual Offences against Young People, London, Cmd 2561) and 1926 (Sexual Offences against Children and Young Persons in Scotland, Edinburgh, Cmd 2592)—investigated the prevalence of child sexual abuse, though they did not hear from any victims. Calls for reform were taken up by mostly female campaigners from the National Vigilance Association, the Association of Moral and Social Hygiene, and the Six Point Group. A prolonged campaign encompassing the middle decades of the twentieth century is catalogued in the papers of the National Council of Women and the Association for Social and Moral Hygiene, 3AMS/F/17/02, 4/BVA/3/2, The Women's Library. Nonetheless, mid-twentieth-century commentators still acknowledged the low profile of child sexual abuse (“The Problem of the Moral Pervert,” Journal of the Institute of Hygiene [1933]: 236–38). Campaigning is documented in Brown, Alyson and Barrett, David, Knowledge of Evil: Child Prostitution and Child Sexual Abuse in Twentieth-Century England (Cullompton, 2002).

10 Criminal justice statistics either do not exist or give misleading figures for the prevalence of child sexual abuse for much of the twentieth century. Louise Jackson, “Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales: Prosecution and Prevalence, 1918–1970,” History and Policy, June 2015,

11 Children's Commissioner for England, Protecting Children from Harm: A Critical Assessment of Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Network in England and Priorities for Action (London, 2015). There are no robust figures to indicate the historical prevalence of the proportion of cases known to the authorities. The 1925 report Sexual Offences against Young Persons simply noted that “there are very many more cases of sexual offences against young persons than there are cases reported to the police” (12). A 1934 pamphlet estimated that “probably not one case in twenty, if so many, is ever reported to the police”; see Sexual Offences against Young Children: A Call to Action (London, 1934), 1 . Historical accounts include Jackson, Louise A., Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England (London, 2000); Davidson, Roger, “‘This Pernicious Delusion’: Law, Medicine, and Child Sexual Abuse in Early-Twentieth-Century Scotland,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 10, no. 1 (January 2001): 6277 ; Brown and Barrett, Knowledge of Evil; Jones, Timothy Willem, “Finding Child Sex Abuse in the Archives: The Treatment of Sexually Offending Clergy in the Church of England, 1871–1960,” in The Sexual Abuse of Children: Recognition and Redress, ed. Smaal, Yorick, Kaladelfos, Andy, and Finnane, Mark (Clayton, 2016), 4557 ; Smaal, Yorick, “Historical Perspectives on Child Sexual Abuse,” part 1, History Compass 11, no. 9 (September 2013): 702–14; Smart, Carol, “A History of Ambivalence and Conflict in the Discursive Construction of the ‘Child Victim’ of Sexual Abuse,” Social Legal Studies 8, no. 3 (September 1999): 391409 ; Smart, Carol, “Reconsidering the Recent History of Child Sexual Abuse, 1910–1960,” Journal of Social Policy 29, no. 1 (January 2000): 5571 .

12 Steedman, Carolyn, “Enforced Narratives: Stories of Another Self,” in Feminism and Autobiography: Texts, Theories, Methods, ed. Coslett, Tess, Lury, Celia, and Summerfield, P. (London, 2000), 2539 .

13 Critics have argued that possible financial compensation has unduly shaped abuse disclosures (see, for example, Smith, Mark, “Victim Narratives of Historical Abuse in Residential Child Care,” Qualitative Social Work 9, no. 3 [September 2010]: 303–20.) The sources examined here, however, suggest a wider set of personal and social dynamics that influence disclosures and that historically precede any possible financial reparation scheme.

14 On “disclosure trajectory,” see Gagnier, Charlotte and Collin-Vézina, Delphine, “The Disclosure Experiences of Male Child Sexual Abuse Survivors,” Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 25, no. 2 (2016): 221–41.

15 On cultures of privacy, see Szreter, Simon and Fisher, Kate, Sex before the Sexual Revolution (Cambridge, 2010); Davidoff, Leonore et al. , The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy, 1830–1960 (London, 1999); and Cohen, Deborah, Family Secrets: Living with Shame from the Victorians to the Present Day (London, 2013).

16 One in Four, Survivors’ Voices: Breaking the Silence, on Living with the Impact of Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment (London, 2015), 5 ,; Christian Wolmar, “Breaking the Silence Will Halt Child Abuse,” Daily Express, 16 January 2003, 12.

17 Fivush, Robyn, “Speaking Silence: The Social Construction of Silence in Autobiographical and Cultural Narratives,” Memory 18, no. 2 (February 2010): 8898 .

18 Lane, appendix, published in Bazeley, Elsie, Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth (London, 1928), 177–93, at 187.

19 Ibid., 189.

20 Bazeley, Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth, 194–200.

21 Thomson, Mathew, “Family, Community and State: The Micro-Politics of Mental Deficiency,” in From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Disabilities, ed. Wright, David and Digby, Anne (London, 1996), 207–30, at 209–10.

22 Victor Bulwer-Lytton, quoted in Stinton, Judith, A Dorset Utopia: The Little Commonwealth and Homer Lane (Norwich, 2005), 89 (emphasis added).

23 Letter from M. L. Shaw concerning the closure, to Dr. Wilson, MSS.16c/3/LC/9, Modern Records Centre, cited in Stinton, A Dorset Utopia, 88. Marie Paneth's 1944 account of philanthropic work in London slums also noted children who “incessantly accuse every grown-up person of promiscuity.” Paneth clearly viewed such claims as mischievous and ill-founded. Paneth, Branch Street: A Sociological Study (London, 1944), 26 , 23.

24 Stinton, A Dorset Utopia, 91. Stinton's analysis of this bald description is that it has “the soft unrealised touch of female adolescent fantasies.” Without any further evidence, she concluded that the accusations were “gossipy” and inaccurate. Ibid., 89.

25 Mrs. Christian Annersley, in Blythe, Ronald, Akenfield (Harmondsworth, 1969).

26 Ibid., 287.

27 Abrams, Lynn, “Akenfield: Forty Years of an Iconic Text,” in “Forty Years: 1929–1969,” special issue, Oral History 37, no. 1 (Spring 2009): 3342 .

28 Annersley, in Blythe, Akenfield, 287, 288.

29 Criminal justice statistics either do not exist or give misleading figures for the prevalence of child sexual abuse for much of the twentieth century. However, Louise Jackson suggests that conviction rates varied dramatically for the different offences under which child sexual abuse could be prosecuted, and that conviction rates were markedly lower in the second half of the twentieth century, when reporting rates were rising. Jackson, “Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales.”

30 Steel, Frank [pseud.], Ditcher's Row: A Tale of the Older Charity (London, 1939), 91 .

31 Ibid., 297–98.

32 Ibid.

33 Edward Balne, Autobiography of an Ex-Workhouse and Poor Law Schoolboy (1972), Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, 34–35,, accessed 28 October 2017.

34 Contemporary surveys report the incidence of male survivors of child sexual abuse of boys at around seven to ten in every one hundred individuals, compared to female rates of around eighteen in one hundred. Male survivors are more likely to receive responses of disbelief, leading to psychological distress and social isolation. Gagnier and Collin-Vézina, “The Disclosure Experiences of Male Child Sexual Abuse Survivors,” 230.

35 Smith, Emma [pseud.], A Cornish Waif's Story: An Autobiography (London, 1954), 31 .

36 Committee Inquiry into London County Council Remand Homes (London, 1945) HMSO Cmd 6594. See also Smart, “A History of Ambivalence and Conflict,” 403–4; Jackson, Louise, “‘Singing Birds as Well as Soap Suds’: The Salvation Army's Work with Sexually Abused Girls in Edwardian England,” Gender and History 12, no. 1 (April 2000): 107–27.

37 Smith, Cornish Waif's Story, 90.

38 Report of the Committee for the Moral Welfare of Children in Islington and Finsbury (London, 1941), 9 , A/LWC/251, London Metropolitan Archives. Evacuation clearly left many children physically and emotionally vulnerable; in a 1990 oral history collection, another evacuee was able to name her experience of being “fondled” by a youth club leader as sexual abuse. She had not previously disclosed because “I knew it was wrong but there was no-one to tell and I was always afraid of getting other people into trouble. I suspect too, that it was a comfort to think somewhat misguidedly, that someone liked me when no one else seemed to.” Anonymous, Goodnight Children Everywhere: Memories of Evacuation in World War II, ed. Schweitzer, Pam (London, 1990), 14 .

39 Starkey, Pat, “The Feckless Mother: Women, Poverty and Social Workers,” Women's History Review 9, no. 3 (February 2000): 539–57; Lucy Delap, “Child Welfare, Child Protection and Sexual Abuse, 1918–1990,” History and Policy, 30 July 2015,

40 Smith, Cornish Waif's Story, 105.

41 Ibid., 118.

42 Cox, Pamela, Gender, Justice, and Welfare: Bad Girls in Britain, 1900–1950 (Basingstoke, 2003), 8687 , 128.

43 Home Office, Report on the Work of the Children's Branch (London, 1928), 6973 .

44 Smith, Cornish Waif's Story, 139.

45 Ibid., 188.

46 Ibid., 86.

47 Ibid., 118.

48 Rosalie Glynn Grylls, “Singing for Supper,” Times Literary Supplement, 24 December 1954, 838.

49 Bowlby, John, Child Care and the Growth of Love (Harmondsworth, 1953). On “Bowlbyism,” see Davis, Angela, Modern Motherhood: Woman and Family in England c. 1945–2000 (Manchester, 2012), 112–14, 122–23; Shapira, Michal, The War Inside: Psychoanalysis, Total War, and the Making of the Democratic Self in Postwar Britain (Cambridge, 2013).

50 Bruce Bain, Workhouse Girl,” Tribune, 12 November 1954, 11.

51 Howard Spring, “Workhouse Girl's Misery,” Country Life, 11 November 1954, 1693.

52 G. W. Stoner, “Living It Over,” New Statesman and Nation, 4 December 1954, 751.

53 Herman, J. L., Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York, 1997).

54 “Emma Smith” to L. P. Hartley, 12 March 1956, folder 2/3, Special Collections, John Rylands Library, Manchester.

55 “Emma Smith” to L. P. Hartley, 12 March 1956, folder 2/3, Special Collections, John Rylands Library, Manchester.

56 Gill, Jo, Modern Confessional Writing: New Critical Essays (London, 2006); O'Neill, Michael, “Poetry and Autobiography in the 1930s: Auden, Isherwood, MacNeice, Spender,” in A History of English Autobiography, ed. Smyth, Adam (Cambridge, 2016), 331–44; Felski, Rita, “On Confession,” in Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change (Cambridge, MA, 1989).

57 Smith, Cornish Waif's Story, 12.

58 See the work of the Northern Ireland Executive Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse,, accessed 26 September 2016; Waterhouse Tribunal, Lost in Care: Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Abuse of Children in Care in the Former County Council Areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974,, accessed 28 September 2016; Dame Janet Smith, The Jimmy Savile Investigation Report,, accessed 28 September 2016; Kate Lampard QC, Themes and Lessons Learnt from NHS Investigations into Matters Relating to Jimmy Savile,, accessed 14 January 2017.

59 Egan, Danielle and Hawkes, Gail, “Producing the Prurient through the Pedagogy of Purity: Childhood Sexuality and the Social Purity Movement,” Journal of Historical Sociology 20, no. 4 (December 2007): 443–61; Jackson, Louise A., “‘The Coffee Club Menace’: Policing Youth, Leisure, and Sexuality in Post-War Manchester,” Cultural and Social History 5, no. 3 (September 2008): 289308 .

60 Moral Welfare, January 1960, 15.

61 Thomson, Mathew, Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement (Oxford, 2013), 157–68. See also Rogaly, Ben and Taylor, Becky, “‘Mrs Fairly Is a Dirty, Lazy Type’: Unsatisfactory Households and the Problem of Problem Families in Norwich, 1942–1963,” Twentieth Century British History 18, no. 4 (January 2007): 429–52.

62 Thane, Pat, “Family Life and ‘Normality’ in Postwar Britain,” in Bessel, Richard and Schumann, Dirk, Life after Death: Approaches to a Cultural and Social History during the 1940s and 1950s (Cambridge, 2003), 193210 , at 198.

63 Bingham, Adrian, Family Newspapers? Sex, Private Life, and the British Popular Press, 1918–1978 (Oxford, 2009), 263 .

64 “Sex and Sense” Observer, 15 September 1957, 10.

65 Standing Medical Advisory Committee of the Central Health Services Council, Child Welfare Centres (London, 1967), 19. On how “family welfare” was operationalized, see Todd, Selina, “Family Welfare and Social Work in Post-War England, c.1948–c.1970,” English Historical Review 129, no. 537 (April 2014): 362–87.

66 Mrs. Panton [pseud.], MS2838/1/14/3, Library of Birmingham.

67 The Wolfenden Report, citing the sexual offences survey conducted by Leon Radzinowicz in 1957, estimated that only 8 percent of men who committed sexual offences against children were pedophiliacs, motivated by the age rather than gender of their victims. Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, Cmd. 247 (London, 1957), 23 .

68 Mathew Thomson, Lost Freedom.

69 Prince, Joyce and Gibbens, T. C. N., Child Victims of Sexual Offences (London, 1963), 8 .

70 Prince and Gibbens, Child Victims of Sexual Offences, 5. The Wolfenden Report similarly noted children's tendency to be a “willing party to, and in some places even the instigator of, the act which takes place.” Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, 36.

71 Burton, Lindy, Vulnerable Children: Three Studies of Children in Conflict (London, 1968), 8798 , 99, 88. As Mathew Thomson has argued, there are clear links between the psychoanalytic literature stressing consensual child-adult sexual relations and attempts to normalize the pedophile identity in groups such as the Paedophile Information Exchange. Thomson, Lost Freedom.

72 See Strange, Julie-Marie, Fatherhood and the British Working Class, 1865–1914 (Cambridge, 2015), 10 .

73 Jones, Ben, “The Uses of Nostalgia: Autobiography, Community Publishing, and Working Class Neighbourhoods in Post-War England,” Cultural and Social History 7, no. 3 (September 2010): 355–74. Victoria Bates argues that it was not until the 1990s that sexual abuse came to feature widely in such memoirs. Bates, Victoria, “‘Misery Loves Company’: Sexual Trauma, Psychoanalysis, and the Market for Misery,” Journal of Medical Humanities 33, no. 2 (March 2012): 6181 .

74 Anderson, Kathryn and Jack, Dana C., “Learning to Listen: Interview Techniques and Analysis,” in Women's Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History, ed. Gluck, Sherna Berger and Patai, Daphne (London, 1991), 1126 .

75 Rogers, Kim Lacy, Leydesdorff, Selma, and Dawson, Graham, eds., Trauma and Life Stories: International Perspectives (London, 1999); Klempner, Mark, “Navigating Life Review Interviews with Survivors of Trauma,Oral History Review 27, no. 2 (July 2000): 6783 .

76 Fivush, “Speaking Silence,” 91.

77 Mrs. Freeman, interview 386, in Thompson, Paul and Lummis, Trevor, Family Life and Work Experience before 1918, 1870–1973, 7th ed. (Colchester, 2009).

78 A 1923 conference of church-based child protection workers, for example, stressed the dangers of open spaces and parks. Portsmouth Evening News, 29 November 1923, 2. Similarly, in January 1929, the National Union of Women Teacher's annual conference claimed that “at present mothers simply dare not allow their children to go into the parks … because of the pests of society who frequent them.” Western Daily Press, 4 January 1929, 7.

79 See, for example, Bath Chronicle and Record, 4 January 1930, 26. The trope was repeated enough for the pro-pedophile magazine Magpie to satirize it a cartoon depicting a boy offering a stranger sweets: Would ya like a sweet, Mister?Magpie: Journal of the Paedophile Information Exchange, no. 11 (May 1978): 9 .

80 Mrs. Collinson [pseud.], interview subject in Thompson, Paul and Newby, Howard, Families, Social Mobility and Ageing, an Intergenerational Approach, 1900–1988 (Colchester, 2005),, accessed 10 November 2017.

81 Jackson, Louise, “Family, Community and the Regulation of Child Sexual Abuse,” in Childhood in Question: Children, Parents and the State, ed. Fletcher, Anthony and Hussey, Stephen (Manchester, 1999), 133–51.

82 Collinson, in Thompson, and Newby, eds., Families, Social Mobility and Ageing.

83 Ibid.

84 Adrian Bingham and Louise Settle, “Scandals and Silences: The British Press and Child Sexual Abuse,” History and Policy, 4 August 2015,

85 Ibid. Mathew Thomson, Lost Freedom, 168–79; Kitzinger, Jenny, Framing Abuse: Media Influence and Public Understanding of Sexual Violence against Children (London, 2004); Bingham, Family Newspapers?, 196–97.

86 Herbert Kretzmer, “Victims of the Unspeakable,” Daily Mail, 14 May 1982, 23.

87 “Jailed Victim of Incest,” Spare Rib 62, September 1977, 29; Spare Rib 83, June 1979, 14; Spare Rib 144, July 1984, 6–7. In 1981 Spare Rib published a practical and direct article on child sexual abuse, citing literature from New Zealand and the United States: Romi Bowen and Angela Hamblin, “Sexual Abuse of Children,” Spare Rib 106, May 1981, 6–8, 31. In contrast, the fourteen issues of the socialist feminist journal Red Rag published between 1973 and 1980 did not discuss incest or child sexual abuse.

88 Armstrong, Louise, Kiss Daddy Goodnight: A Speakout on Incest (New York, 1978); Jeffreys, Sheila, “The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Home,” in On the Problem of Men: Two Feminist Conferences, ed. Friedman, Scarlet and Sarah, Elizabeth (London 1982), 5666 .

89 Jenkins, Philip, Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain (New York, 1992), 108 ; Crane, Jennifer, “Painful Times: The Emergence and Campaigning of Parents against Injustice in 1980s and 1990s Britain,” Twentieth Century British History 26, no. 3 (September 2015): 450–76.

90 Bruley, Sue, “Consciousness-Raising in Clapham: Women’s Liberation as ‘Lived Experience’ in South London in the 1970s,” Women’s History Review 22, no. 5 (April 2013): 717–38.

91 Ibid.

92 Special edition of Feminist Review 28 (1988): 60; Warner, Sam, Understanding the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse: Feminist Revolutions in Theory, Research and Practice (London, 2009); Smaal, “Historical Perspectives on Child Sexual Abuse, Part 1.”

93 Gordon, “The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Notes from American History,” 60. See for example, Baker, Anthony and Duncan, Sylvia, “Child Sexual Abuse: A Study of Prevalence in Great Britain,” Child Abuse and Neglect, 1985: 457–67; Google Ngram shows a significant divergence between “paedophile” (or occasionally “pedophile”) and “paedophilia” from 1994, with the former rising much more sharply than the latter in their corpus of British-published books. Incest, however, remained the predominant term, used beyond its strict legal definition of sex between close blood relations, to capture child sexual abuse more generally. See for example, BBC television investigations (Brass Tacks, first screened 13 May 1982, and Horizon, Prisoners of Incest, March 1984), and women's magazine reporting (Linda Newman, “Sexual Abuse within the Family,” 19, May 1983, 35–39).

94 Jakob Stern [pseud.], interviewed by Lucy Delap, Unbecoming Men collection, British Library.

95 This tendency was visible in older variants of feminism, which drew strongly on discourses of moral purity. A moral welfare worker Jessie Higson, for example, noted in a 1955 memoir that “an older generation of social worker—the feminist, shall we say,” placed the needs of the unmarried mother above the child. Higson, Jessie, The Story of a Beginning: An Account of Pioneer Work for Moral Welfare (London, 1955), 135 .

96 Jeffreys, “The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Home,” 65.

97 Anne, Spare Rib 150, January 1985, 43.

98 Alice Mitchell [pseud.], oral history, 2010, transcript in possession of the author.

99 Ibid.

100 I. Loader, “Interview with Serving Police Officer 2,” in “Policing, Cultural Change and ‘Structures of Feeling’ in Post-War England, 1945–1999,” 1, UK Data Service (distributor), 2003-07-14, SN:4594, para. 4 (hereafter “Policing, Cultural Change”). An early acknowledgment of child sexual abuse was published in the British Medical Journal by a former police surgeon: Wells, Nesta, “Sexual Offences as Seen by a Woman Police Surgeon,” British Medical Journal 2, no. 5109 (6 December 1958): 1404–8. A further report and editorial followed in 1961: Wells, Nesta, “Sexual Assaults on Children,” British Medical Journal, vol. 2, no. 5267 (16 December 1961): 1623–24, 1628–33. Nonetheless, a high attrition rate in police investigations and the courts was common for cases of indecent assault, rape, or carnal knowledge of children; child testimony was widely regarded as unreliable, and a prosecution was rarely brought unless there were corroborating witnesses or other evidence. Jackson, “Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales.”

101 “Interview with Female Police Officer 3,” in “Policing, Cultural Change”; Jackson, Louise, Women Police: Gender, Welfare and Surveillance in the Twentieth Century (Manchester, 2006), 205 .

102 “Interview with Chief Constable 8,” in “Policing, Cultural Change”; Butler-Sloss, Elizabeth, Report of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Cleveland 1987 (London, 1988). An early attempt at interagency cooperation was made in Bexley and was influential across other police services. Metropolitan Police and Bexley London Borough, Child Sexual Abuse: Joint Investigative Project: Final Report (London, 1987).

103 Younghusband, Eileen, Social Work in Britain, 1950–1975: A Follow-Up Study, 2 vols. (London, 1978), 1:68, 70.

104 Ibid., 2:220.

105 Boushel, Margaret and Noakes, Sara, “Islington Social Services: Developing a Policy on Child Sexual Abuse,” in “Family Secrets: Child Sexual Abuse,” special issue, Feminist Review 28, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 150–57.

106 Wild, N. J. and Wynne, J. M., “Child Sex Rings,” British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition) 293, no. 6540 (19 July 1986): 183–85. The growth of forensic medicine in the later twentieth century encouraged more attention to the traumatized bodies of victims of child sexual abuse but less expectation that their experiences could be voiced. Jennifer Crane's work on the x-ray, widely used to identify physical child abuse from the 1960s, suggests “an early challenge to the cultural denial and ignorance of child abuse”: Crane, Jennifer, “‘The Bones Tell a Story the Child Is Too Young or Too Frightened to Tell’: The Battered Child Syndrome in Post-War Britain and America,” Social History of Medicine 28, no. 4 (November 2015): 767–88, at 769. But it is significant that a higher profile for child abuse was achieved in relation to physical abuse, and through a technology that displaced attention from what children said. The prioritization of the physical evidence of children's bodies culminated with the notorious use of the Reflex Anal Dilation test during the Cleveland abuse scandal in 1987.

107 Thomson, Lost Freedom, 168–79. See also Gay Left Collective, “Happy Families? Paedophilia Examined,” Gay Left (Winter 1978/79): 2–5; Angelides, Steven, “Feminism, Child Sexual Abuse, and the Erasure of Child Sexuality,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 10, no. 2 (January 2004): 141–77.

108 Davis, Leonard F., “Touch, Sexuality, and Power in Residential Settings,” British Journal of Social Work 5, no. 4 (January 1975): 397411 , at 410, 409.

109 Reynell, Simon, MAN: Men's Anti-Sexist Newsletter, no. 12 (1980): 11 (emphasis added).

110 NSPCC Information Briefing, “Child Sexual Abuse: Guidelines for Case Management,” 8 March 1986, cited in Midgley, David, Who Are the Lonely Kids? Report of an Enquiry into Treatment Options for Sexual Abusers of Children within the Family (Durham, 1987).

111 Allnock and Miller, No One Noticed, No One Heard.

112 Courtney, Roger, Strategic Management for Voluntary Non-Profit Organizations (New York, 2002), 285 .

113 Christopher Brown, “Dangers of Ignoring Children's Stories,” Guardian, 19 March 1990, 22.

114 The 1990s saw significant contestation of ideas of the recovery of memory of abuse. Controversies around “false memory syndrome” were prominent from the mid-1990s; see Bates, “Misery Loves Company.”

115 Most prominently in Britain, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has from 2015 provided new opportunities for disclosure: The rise of grassroots digital forums where survivors and victims of child sexual abuse can share their narratives has also been important in challenging disbelief. See, for example, and

116 Documenting problems of disclosure in the late twentieth century (and particularly the barriers faced by those from ethnic minority backgrounds), as well as indicating the transformation of the 2010s, see Shirley Oaks Survivors Association, “Looking for a Place Called Home”: Interim Report on Child Abuse, Shirley Oaks Children's Home (London, 2016).

117 “Rosamund,” interviewed by Maria Marven, 16 September 2014, transcript in possession of the author.

118 Linde, Charlotte, Narrative and Institutional Memory (New York, 2008), 4 .

119 Attwood, Bain and Magowan, Fiona, Telling Stories: Indigenous History and Memory in Australia and New Zealand (Sydney, 2001), xii .

120 Mitchell, oral history.

121 Auslander, Leora, “Archiving a Life: Post-Shoah Paradoxes of Memory Legacies,” in Unsettling History: Archiving and Narrating in Historiography, ed. Jobs, Sebastian and Lüdtke, Alf (Chicago, 2010), 127–48, at 129–30.

122 Mitchell, oral history.

123 Weeks, Jeffrey, The World We Have Won: The Remaking of Erotic and Intimate Life (London, 2007), 59 .

124 Cook, Hera, The Long Sexual Revolution: English Women, Sex, and Contraception (Oxford, 2004), 338–40; Giddens, Anthony, Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Stanford, 1991), 5 . See also Plummer, Ken, Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change, and Social Worlds (London, 1995), 77 .

125 Pullen, Chris, Gay Identity, New Storytelling, and the Media (Basingstoke, 2009), 22 . For a critique of chronologies of permissiveness, see Mort, Frank, “The Ben Pimlott Memorial Lecture 2010: The Permissive Society Revisited,” Twentieth Century British History, 22, no. 2 (June 2011): 269–98.

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  • Lucy Delap


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