Plain Sight

Survivor-led creative health research project tackling public misunderstandings of adult survivors of child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse (CSA) affects millions of people worldwide, with many cases undetected or unreported. Trauma survivors face discrimination, inappropriate labels for their distress and victim-blaming when they come forward about their experiences. This survivor-led project aimed to utilise the arts to challenge some of the misconceptions that people have about CSA survivors.

The research team developed an anonymous online survey that invited adult survivors of CSA from around the UK to share their views, perspectives and creative writing, which helped inspire the film series. The film scripts were developed from the culmination of responses from 25 participants of different ages, genders, sexualities, ethnicities and professions. The 4 short films premiered at a public event hosted by Riverside Studios in London, where the audience members were asked to provide feedback on their content and effect. Follow-up interviews were also conducted with some of the participants to gather feedback on the project.

Key findings

  • Most participants found it “interesting”, “helpful” or “valuable” to talk about their feelings in this way, but some stressed that such projects must be a part of a multifaceted set of efforts to produce meaningful change.
  • The CSA survivors are a diverse community, so the film series likely captures only a snapshot into some of the perspectives people have.
  • Half of the members of the public that provided feedback on the event said that the films had changed their perceptions about what it means to be a survivor. Attendees described the films as “empowering” and “encouraging”.
  • The results highlight that more efforts are needed to comprehensively support survivors and to meaningfully change how they are perceived and treated by the public.

Summaries and resources

The short films and more information about the project by Viv Gordon, the principal artist, are available to view at Viv Gordon Company.

An executive summary is available online:
Tackling public misunderstandings of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA): A qualitative study involving people who have experienced CSA in the creation of a performance-based short film series

The project team also produced a video outlining the background of the project and its key findings:

More information about Plain Sight is available at Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network.


UKRI Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network

Programme area

Creative health



Principal Investigator

Dr Alison McKinlay

Principal Artist

Viv Gordon


2022 – 2023


Viv Gordon Company
Riverside Studios
Fluxx Films