My name is Nabila Sharma, some of you may have read my book Brutal  which talks about my personal experience of being sexually abused as a child by a local Imam.

It has taken me 30 years, but I finally sought justice for the abuse I suffered at the hands of the Imam at the mosque I attended when I was just seven years old, a place that I was meant to be safe and by a man who was meant to be trusted to keep me safe. I faced many challenges to speak out, will anyone believe me? Will they think it was my fault? Where could I go for support?  The days, months and years that followed were some of the hardest in my life.

In 2012 I finally had the courage to come forward and report my abuser In 2016 he was convicted and sentenced to 11 and a half years.  I was tired but relieved that finally, he would be punished for what he had done to me

He was convicted Wolverhampton crown court in October 2016 after two trials that had lasted for 4 years, but he then absconded the next day and fled to Bangladesh where I believe he will continue to abuse others.

I felt utter disappointment.

I’d been let down by so many institutions over the years

I’d spent almost 30 years in silence.

I felt betrayed again…

But now I have a voice and I intend to use it, I am no longer that scared little child and I’m hear to make changes to ensure this does not happen again.

I was contacted by The Sharan Project who told me about the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the Truth Project and, after some research, I agreed to talk with them. The Truth Project seeks to understand the institutional failings in cases of child abuse and what can be done to prevent such failings.

Right from the first moment I was reassured that my account would remain anonymous and my feelings were always considered. I was spoken to with so much empathy and consideration. This is something that I did not experienced during the four year period when my case went to trial. I had a wonderful social worker who was in constant contact with me and even came along to my session.

Everyone involved in the Truth Project have been wonderful and I cannot praise and thank them enough for all the support I received. Nothing was too big a problem and they made every step of my journey stress free and safe.

The Truth Project is doing an amazing job but to break the taboo and to stop child abuse particularly within minority communities, we must support others to report it and to speak out and this is why I wanted to help and be a part of the Project so that I could help other victims and survivors and make a positive change for the future.

I’ve started a petition where I am calling for it to be compulsory for all places of worship to be OSTED and DBS checked. If you would like to show your support please sign the link.

Your support could make all the difference for children who continue to be abused by those who are entrusted to protect them

If you have been affected by child sexual abuse, there are many organisations who can help or you can contact the Truth Project.

Don’t suffer in silence. Let our voices be heard. Together we can end child sexual abuse.

Nabila Sharma