Hi! I’m Siobhan. I have lived experience of child sexual abuse which I suffered from a very young age, until I managed to disclose and report at age 15. Following a lengthy court process, my father was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison in 2007, then released early.
I want to ensure that no child today feels like they can’t tell anyone if they’re being abused at home, or anywhere else. For this, we need a deeper understanding of the reasons why children find it so tremendously difficult to speak out, and how we might support them.
I first shared my story in public at age 17, when I created a video project with Fixers which was aired on TV. The response was phenomenal and showed me how valuable spoken testimony is to those who still suffer. It was the start of a path that would lead me to winning two national awards for ‘exceptional community impact’ and feeling very resolved about my own experiences. I grew up thinking it was all my fault. Society helped me to think otherwise, but there are still many, many children who feel silenced by shame.
I have spent these years pondering how I can use my particular insight into this issue to help people. When I was invited to speak at the first annual NHS Safeguarding Conference, I thought, this is gonna be a one off. Let me get up there and say what I want to say; what I think they really need to hear. Minimum fluff; straight from the heart.
Well, it ended up not being a one off. It turns out that people really appreciate real testimony, combined with pragmatic messages for how we can help children today, based on what would have helped those who have been there such as myself. And so Beam Project was born.
Here’s my first ever video speaking out about abuse in 2008. As soon as I was old enough to waive my anonymity, I did so.