Centre for Research on Families and Relationships




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Congratulations to Dr Sarah Nelson

CRFR are delighted that Dr Sarah Nelson, Research Associate at CRFR, has been awarded an OBE for her longstanding work on behalf of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Sarah has conducted research and used it to advocate for survivors over many decades. This is despite never having the luxury of a secure academic post. Over the years she has worked directly with voluntary organisations and with the Scottish Government.

As a researcher she conducted a project with Health in Mind that focused on the mental health needs of female survivors of childhood sexual abuse and a project on the life histories of male survivors. The latter also involved Dr Ruth Lewis now at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow. Both projects made recommendations about how services could be improved. Indeed, her work has always been concerned to listen to survivors with a view to improving their situation.

Her work demonstrates how practical and accessible lessons that maximise the possibilities of appropriately changing policy and practice come from research working closely with survivors themselves. Her focus on making a difference has resulted in a publication profile of reports and booklets for policy makers, practitioners, activists and survivors. However, she has also written significant academic articles and books. Her most recent book Tackling Child Sexual Abuse: Radical Approaches to Prevention, Protection and Support (Policy Press, Bristol, published 2016) provides a wide-ranging overview and summarises original research on the impact of childhood abuse on adult physical health. Sarah’s new article, ACEs policy and adults: The Missing Role of Sexual Abuse, will be published by the journal Scottish Affairs in November.