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As a precaution against the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Internet Watch Foundation will be operating at a reduced capacity. We provide a vital service for the public and are committed to staying open but there is likely to be a delay responding to reports, emails and calls. People can still report child sexual abuse imagery as normal here.

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Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week: How IWF analysts make a difference

“Imagine your darkest moments exposed to an unknown number of people. Then imagine strangers watching your pain for sexual satisfaction. That’s what happens for some of the children whose abuse images we see online."

The IWF works to find and remove child sexual abuse material from the internet

The Internet Watch Foundation’s Internet Content Analysts do a tough job. 

Every day, they come to work and view hours of footage and thousands of images of child sexual abuse. 

By viewing and assessing the images, the IWF can ultimately have them removed and blocked from the internet.  

The children in these videos and images are real, and their abuse is relived every time videos or pictures of their abuse are shared by predators online.  

Today (February 3) is the start of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. To mark this, we asked some of our analysts what drives them, and why their work is so important to them.  

For IWF analyst Lillian, her work is a chance to protect victims and stop their suffering being made worse by the spread of images of their abuse.  

Lillian said: “working in a field where I am actually able to get images of children being raped and sexually abused removed from the web fulfils a desire to make a positive difference in the world.  

“We can’t make it like it never happened, if only we could, but we continue to strive to protect the victims from being re-victimised further, this means stopping images of children’s suffering being posted over and over again and getting to do that is the most satisfying part of the job.  

“We locate and source the removal of thousands of images of child sexual abuse every single week.  

“It often feels like we are looking into a window at their abuse which is frustrating for us as we would like nothing more than to be able to rescue the victims from their pain.” 

For analyst John, working at the IWF is about keeping children safe in an increasingly online world.  

John said: “Being a parent of teenage children, I am only too aware of the pull that social media has for children – as well as the wider online world – and the dangers and pitfalls that can await them as well as the amazing experiences it can offer.  

“The need for online safety education is so important which is why we work with our partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre to spread the online safety message.” 

Analyst Rosa says her work at the IWF is a “privilege”, allowing her to stick up for children who have been abused.  

Rosa said: “Imagine your darkest moments exposed to an unknown number of people. Then imagine strangers watching your pain for sexual satisfaction. That’s what happens for some of the children whose abuse images we see online.  

“Each day I work as an analyst I question how people are so determined to abuse, coerce and exploit children sexually, let alone record it and pass it around. 

I can’t step into a video or image and stop what is happening, but I can help stop it existing online, and that’s why IWF exists, and why I do the job I do.  

“These children are real, and they should have someone to stick up for them. It’s a privilege to be on their side and stop them being revictimised all over again.” 

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