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An expert has suggested that as many as 11 million people could have been sexually assaulted in Britain. The same expert has also stated that as many as 25% of girls and 16.67 of boys under the age of 16 may have been victims of abuse.

Graham Wilmer, founder of the Lantern Project, an organisation that supports victims of sexual abuse, has said this figure would constitute a “national health epidemic,” which needs to be dealt with. The figures appear somewhat outlandish but Wilmer has said that his estimation is based on “prevalence rates published by the government”.

Mr Wilmer, an abuse victim himself, told Sky News, “There are potentially about 11.7 million victims out there at the moment who have not disclosed, and many of those people will start to come forward in very significant numbers.”

He would continue in the same interview to say, “You are dealing with a massive, massive problem. From what we have seen, if you don’t provide the right level of support and intervention to support people when they come forward you see very significant health problems, mental health and physical health, which have a direct cost to us as a society. We look upon child abuse and its impact now as a national health epidemic.”

Mr Wilmer has discovered this information after he was appointed by Theresa May to the controversial historical sex abuse inquiry. The panel has already seen two chairs resign and had to contend with great anger from some victims themselves.

The NSPCC however states that Mr Wilmer’s figures are much too high. Their estimates state that it is more like 5% of all children as oppose to the much larger percentage that has been suggested. Mr Wilmer replied to this statement by claiming, “All of the forces of law, and the forces of support work that are available are all gearing towards saying this number is a big number, whether it is 11.5 million or 11.1 actually isn’t really relevant.”

He also went on to promise that although the figure is high he and the government would now do something about the problem saying, “The fact is that it is a massive number and because it is a massive problem we are now focusing on it and we are going to do something about it.”

The inquiry thus far has been dogged by controversy where conflicts of interest have cropped up and apparent insensitivity to victims is being claimed. This new estimate will hopefully jolt a reaction from the committee and force points of order to stop being discussed and the actual problem being placed on the table.

I find myself in agreement with Mr Wilmer if the figure is as low, as far as 11.1 million can be considered low, or if it as high as nearly 12 million is of little consequence; what needs to be discussed is how to help these people. The mental health problems could well be long lasting and yet there has not been a real solution presented maybe now that there is a figure attached we can start making headway. At least that’s what I hope happens.