SURVIVORS of child abuse and sex trafficking said they felt they have been let down by the system which was suppose to protect them at a rally in Glasgow.

Dozens of victims of historical child abuse in Scotland put on a united front in George Square on Monday in a bid to raise awareness of the atrocities they endured and to encourage others who have experienced the same injustice to come forward.

The rally, which will be at the city landmark for three days, was organised by Dave Sharp who set up the organisation, SAFE, Seek and Find Everyone Abused in Childhood.

Dave was sexually abused from the age of 11. He was raped in a home in Fife and also by several men in Ireland. In Glasgow, he was taken around many homes where he was placed in a coffin with the lid shut for long periods of time.

Dave, 59, said: “We are a group of survivors who have come together using our own time and money to go out and look for survivors of historical child abuse in Scotland.

“Sex trafficking in this country has been going on for years. Currently we are aware of the amount of the money going into dealing with this issue now but if you go back into the archives, even 10 years ago, you’ll find that there wasn’t as many convictions or investigations, and in my own case I was trafficked over to Ireland to be abused by a number of priests.”

Dave explained that his group have been out campaigning across Scotland and as a result they have had over 200 people come forward who said they were abused in childhood.

He said: “We have many people who say they reported their abuse years ago and nothing was done.

“We are trying to give a positive message that it is safe to come forward now because we do have The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, we do have the National Confidential Forum, but it is also important that we have a police force now that has adjusted. We know there is more paedophiles in jail now than ever before so that says the police are doing something right.”

One victim, 57, who wished to remain anonymous, first went into care at 12 for not going to school. The Paisley man was sexually abused by a Catholic monk in a residential home.

He said: “I had planned to take what happened to me to the grave until Dave spoke publicly about the abuse.

“It just ruined my life and I ended up on the drink. I am really angry over what happened. I thought if I ever came out I would be fighting against the Catholic church by myself so I kept quiet for all those years.”

Another victim was abused by his foster parents who had taken him into their home at the age of two after his mother could not look after him.

The man, now 51, from Glasgow, said: “It was physical and sexual abuse from the age of nine.

“I didn’t have a childhood. I was failed by the system. I ran away and I lied about my age to get into a homeless unit.”

Janine Rennie is the Chief Executive of Wellbeing Scotland who deliver an in-care survivor service for those who were abused in a care setting.

The organisation has dealt with over 1,500 survivors who were abused in care.

She said: “I have been working with people who were abused in care in Scotland since 2008. I have seen the level atrocity in terms of the abuse which has been perpetrated in care.

“What people don’t understand is that with the abuse that went on, there was an element of trafficking with young people getting moved around and abused in different settings. Children that were in care were just really being treated like commodities.”

Sandra Toyer works with the support group Voice Within, who help survivors come to terms with what happened to them.

She said: “The group allows survivors to meet other people in the same situation. Some people are only disclosing for the first time.

“We have been running for four years now. The support group has allowed people to take away that shame that they felt which they have carried for so long. It is such a shame that they didn’t feel able to talk about it before but coming together with other people and getting strength from each other has helped them.”

She added: “We have to remember we are talking to survivors now but they were children when it happened. It was horrific what happened to them, tortured and abused by professionals and other adults. We can never forget about them.”

She urged anyone to come forward if they have experienced similar abuse as a child.

She said: “The shame is not theirs they have to direct the shame to where it belongs and that was the perpetrators.”

Thompsons Solicitors were also at the event to offer legal advice to survivors about how to get justice through compensation.

Solicitor Lindsay Bruce said: “We have a number of cases which are going through and we are quite confident we will get a result for the survivor.

“It is important for survivors to get acknowledgement. You tend to find that people are looking for an apology and acceptance for what had happened.”