Germany’s commissioner, inquiry, and fund supports responses to child sexual abuse

An independent commissioner to support survivors, practice, and policy

The Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues was established by the German Government in 2010/2011 to provide support to survivors and their families, to practitioners and researchers, and to politicians and civil society who are engaged in the protection of children and adolescents from sexual violence.

The role and resources of the independent commissioner

The Commissioner is independent and not obliged to follow instructions from a higher level. The main activities of the Commissioner include:

  • explain, inform and raise awareness of sexualised violence against children and adolescents,
  • develop and support sustainable concepts for improving protection against sexualised violence against children and adolescents and to better help survivors,
  • identify the need for legal action and research gaps in the field of sexualised violence against children and adolescents,
  • attend to the concerns of people who were exposed to sexualised violence during their childhood or adolescence,
  • ensure systematic and independent inquiries into child sexual abuse in Germany.

The Office of the Commissioner has staff in with backgrounds in education, law, psychology, politics and history, communications and administration.

The survivors’ board at the Commissioner’s Office ensures that the concerns of survivors of sexual violence suffered during childhood and adolescence are heard at the highest political level in Germany. The survivors’ board consists of 16 survivors, and the members provide advice to the commissioner and the commissioner’s staff. The members of the survivor’s board are furthermore a voice for all survivors.

The Independent Commissioner is also a survivor.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Based on a decision by the German Parliament, the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse issues was established in 2016 to investigate child sexual abuse in family environments and institutions.

The Inquiry investigates the scale, nature, causes, and consequences of sexual abuse in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1949 to the present day. In particular, the Inquiry seeks to provide spaces, either in private sessions or public hearings, where the voices of victims, survivors and contemporary witnesses can be heard and thereby also to enable the reporting of time-barred offences. The Inquiry publishes case studies and regular reports based on their findings from over 2,200 testimonies. In 2022, the website, with more than 100 survivor stories was launched. The work of the Inquiry has been extended until the end of 2023. The inquiry is regarded as an important mechanism for redress and justice and for providing a voice for survivors of sexual abuse.

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The Fund for Sexual Abuse in the Family

The federal government’s Fonds Sexueller Missbrauch im familiären Bereich (Sexual Abuse in the Family Fund) supports individuals who were sexually abused as children or adolescents in overcoming their experience. This includes, for example, covering the costs of therapy. Benefits from this fund are provided when victims are not entitled to statutory benefits, when the statutory benefits are not sufficient, or when the statutory benefits have been refused. The fund also accepts applications concerning non-family related cases, such as sexual abuse in sports clubs or churches, provided that the institution participates in the fund.