Already (midday Fri 25.01.20), there’s an expected amount of Visitors compared to all of last wk. Coupled with the delicate tensions of our growing amount of CSA viewers, this annual event is carrying greater strain through our Aboriginal Indigenous Communities, and the publicised split of the British Royal Family – Meghan-Prince Harry situation. #megxit #InvasionDay #AustraliaDay
Following our recent sharing of info on the targeting of lowSES Enrolments, relevant trends of International ESL (English as Second Language) Students is also planned to be Shared. During searching + conversations, this seems to be largely unearthed Issue. Extensive information is available, due to the immense School, Education + Government worth; yet the negative outcomes have typically been overlooked.
Not anymore. As will be other overlooked, or unaddressed issues of Indigenous, rural + remote Enrolments (remember Rudd House Borders 🎯 ?).
Sometimes people come to our website because they are looking for personal help.
If someone asked you right now if you are having thoughts of suicide, what would your honest answer be?
If your answer is ‘yes’, this is undoubtedly a very difficult time for you. You don’t need to go through this alone. Help is available.
It is not uncommon for men who have experienced child sexual abuse or sexual assault to have to deal with suicidal thoughts. An experience of child sexual abuse or sexual assault can have men feeling distressed and overwhelmed both at the time and at stressful times in the future. If suicidal thoughts are unchallenged they can convince a man that because he is doing it tough now it will always be like this. If there is time to talk about suicidal thoughts they can provide a clue to what a man holds dear, about certain connections he values and the dreams and aspirations he has for life. In order for such conversation to occur it is first important to make sure you are safe now.
If you think you might harm yourself call for help immediately
Reach out to someone you trust and ask for help. Tell them honestly how you feel, including your thoughts of suicide.
Call 000 (police, ambulance, fire) or
Call Lifeline 13 11 14 or
Go, or have someone take you to your local hospital emergency department.
It is important to understand suicidal thoughts
I felt like shit, like there was no way out. It wasn’t like my first thought but it was there in the background.
Remember that thoughts about suicide are just that – thoughts. You don’t need to act on them. They won’t last for ever, and often they pass very quickly. Many people who have had serious thoughts of suicide have said that they felt completely different only hours later. It is common to feel overwhelmed and distressed during difficult times or when it seems that things will never improve.
Things you can do to keep yourself safe
Seek help early. Talk to a family member or friend, see your local doctor, or ring a telephone counselling service.
Postpone any decision to end your life. Many people find that if they postpone big decisions for just 24 hours, things improve, they feel better able to cope and they find the support they need.
Talk to someone. Find someone you can trust to talk to: family, friends, a colleague, teacher or minister. 24-hour telephone counselling lines allow you to talk anonymously to a trained counsellor any time of the day or night.
Avoid being alone (especially at night). Stay with a family member or friend or have someone stay with you until your thoughts of suicide decrease.
Develop a safety plan. Come up with a plan that you can put into action at any time, for example have a friend or family member agree that you will call them when you are feeling overwhelmed or upset.
Avoid drugs and alcohol when you are feeling down. Many drugs are depressants and can make you feel worse, they don’t help to solve problems and can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do.
Set yourself small goals to help you move forward and feel in control. Set goals even on an hour-by-hour or day-by-day basis – write them down and cross them off as you achieve them.
Write down your feelings. You might keep a journal, write poetry or simply jot down your feelings. This can help you to understand yourself better and help you to think about alternative solutions to problems.
Stay healthy. try to get enough exercise and eat well – Exercising can help you to feel better by releasing hormones (endorphins) into your brain. Eating well will help you to feel energetic and better able to manage difficult life events.
See your local doctor or a specialist to discuss support or treatment. Discuss your suicidal thoughts and feelings with your doctor, talk about ways to keep yourself safe, and make sure you receive the best treatment and care.
See a mental health professional. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and other health professionals are trained to deal with issues relating to suicide, mental illness and well being. You can find them in the Yellow Pages or visit your GP or contact a crisis line for information.
Thoughts of suicide occur to many people and for a range of reasons. The most important thing to remember is that help is available. Talking to someone is a good place to start, even though it may seem difficult. Tell someone today!
Find help in your local area
If you’re feeling suicidal, getting help early can help you cope with the situation and avoid things getting worse. After you get over a crisis, you need to do all you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. There are a number of sources of support in your local area. If the first place or person you contact can’t help, or doesn’t meet your needs, try another.
Where to get help
Lifeline has centres all around Australia. Check their website for the centre closest to you, and for resources and information related to suicide prevention: www.lifeline.org.au or www.justlook.org.au.
General practitioner A GP can refer you for a Mental Health Care Plan. Look for one in the Yellow Pages, or contact your local community health centre.
Community Health CentresThese are listed in the White Pages.
PsychiatristLook in the Yellow Pages, or ask a referring organisation such as Lifeline’s Just Ask. To claim the Medicare rebate, you need a letter of referral from a GP.
PsychologistYou can find these through your GP, community health centre, the Yellow Pages or the Australian Psychological Society (APS). The APS provides a referral service on 1800 333 497 or visit their website at www.psychology.org.au.
Counsellors and psychotherapistsYou can find these through your GP, community health centre, or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia Inc (PACFA). PACFA have a national register of individual counsellors and psychotherapists available to the public at www.pacfa.org.au.
Gay and Lesbian Counselling and Community Services of Australia provides information and links to counselling services for gay and lesbian people. Telephone: 1800 18 45 27 or see the website for numbers in your state/territory, www.glccs.org.au
Who to call
For immediate support, when your life may be in danger, ring 000 or go to your local hospital emergency department.
National 24 Hour crisis telephone counselling services
Note: Many of these services also offer interpreter services for those people who speak English as a second language (ESL).
Acknowledgement: This page was created with reference to the “Living is for everyone” publication Promoting good practice in suicide prevention: Activities targeting men produced by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: 2008.
The impacts of child sexual abuse can be complex and severe. While it is not always the case, it is common that a man who has experienced child sexual abuse will experience a range of negative effects many years after the abuse.
However in our experience with men who have been sexually abused in childhood, what we are working with is not only the effects of the abuse, but also the unwanted side-effects of the strategies some men adopt to help them deal with these effects.
Anyone who has lived through traumatic experiences in childhood has, out of necessity, developed a range of creative, effective strategies that helped them survive and go on to live their life. Very often, however, the strategies that worked in childhood don’t work so well in the adult world.
What brings men to services like Living Well is quite often not the original abuse, but a crisis involving the strategies the man has been using to manage the effects of the abuse. For instance, a drinking problem gets so bad the man had to go into rehabilitation; a way of managing relationships becomes so dysfunctional that a partner threatens to leave, and so on.
Men are sometimes surprised to find that what they think of as their current problem was originally developed as a strategy for dealing with their abuse. So rather than listing all the negative effects that sexual abuse can have on a man’s life, in the following section we will talk about some of the strategies men use to manage the impacts of their abuse, and how these strategies can sometimes ‘take over’.
Strategies: When some solutions become the problem
When a human being experiences a terrible event like child sexual abuse, the memories of that event become charged with very strong emotions, like feelings of horror and disgust. This is actually a biological process that has an adaptive advantage: It makes us want to avoid that same situation again, which helps us to survive.
But, where we are not able to avoid the threatening situation – such as when a boy is being hurt by the very family which keeps him fed and alive – then these memories and feelings can build up and start to feel unbearable.
When a child is not able to avoid the abusive situation physically, he must learn to avoid the memories and feelings about the abuse psychologically. Thinking about the abuse triggers the feelings that are attached to the memories, so the child learns ways to not remember or think about the abuse. There are multiple strategies children develop to do this.
All the strategies we are going to talk about work the same way. The purpose of the strategies is to avoid the feelings which are linked to the memories of the abuse.
Very often strategies are developed in childhood, using a child’s mind. A child can’t be expected to think though all the consequences of the strategy, and sometimes is in too much pain or danger to be able to afford to. The strategy may then take on a ‘life of its own’, and ultimately become a problem in itself.
Nevertheless it is worth making that point that just because a strategy may cause difficulties, that does not mean it didn’t make sense in the first place. If it hadn’t worked to manage the feelings caused by the abuse, you would not have kept using it. All strategies make sense when they are first developed.
We should also add that just because some activity or way of thinking is being used as a strategy, that does not mean it is an inherently unhealthy or problematic activity/thought. Anything can be used as a strategy. It only becomes a problem when it becomes dysfunctional or painful in some way, or gets in the way of other positive things in a person’s life.
Here are some of the most common strategies.
Common emotional responses to child sexual assault are long-term depression, sadness, anxiety, intense fear of feelings or memories of the abuse, and anger. Some men feel joyless, and ‘empty inside’. A very common feeling following abuse is shame. This feeling may ‘cover’ the whole person, so that by the time the child becomes an adult he feels worthless and unlovable. Struggling to managing difficult feelings is a very common effect of childhood sexual abuse.
The purpose of the ‘numbing’ strategies is to numb the feelings about the trauma. They usually have the side-effect of numbing other feelings too.
Some of the most common of these strategies are the use of chemicals to alter mood. They include:
Painkillers and sedatives.
Other drugs, legal and illicit (a very long list).
Other numbing strategies include the ‘rush’ strategies. In these, the survivor engages in activities which provide an absorbing psychological ‘high’:
Sex (including sex with other people, pornography or any other form of sexual activity).
Gambling of all kinds.
Shopping, either physical or on-line.
On-line social networking.
Risky behaviours (aggressive driving/racing, fighting, some sports, etc).
Self-harm (cutting, etc. Not all ‘rush’ strategies involve a positive rush).
Another group of numbing strategies are the task/discipline group, where the strategy is to throw oneself into highly challenging, absorbing, or painful tasks. For men, these strategies often have an element of aggression, pain or high levels of self-control:
Physical training (marathons, cycling, martial arts, weightlifting and so on).
Ascetic practices (including long or arduous forms of meditation or prayer, fasting, etc).
An additional benefit of aggression- or risk-based strategies is they may help the survivor combat feelings of shame about being a ‘victim.’
These strategies involve thinking about things in ways which help us avoid painful feelings. Here are some of the more common ones.
Self-blame: It is very common for men who experienced child sexual abuse to blame themselves for the abuse, or to believe that it happened because there was something wrong with them. These beliefs are encouraged by perpetrators and sometimes by society. However, self-blame can also have a psychological benefit. Sometimes it can be easier for a boy who has been abused to look for the fault in himself, than have to accept that a person he loves is an abuser. Some men also find hope, if unconsciously, in the notion that if the abuse is their fault, if they can find a way to change what is wrong with them, then that might stop it from ever happening again. It seems easier to change ourselves than to change others who are more powerful than us.
Intrusive/unavoidable thoughts: Some men experience critical or despairing thoughts or worries. Sometimes these thoughts can seem to come out of nowhere. These thoughts can become ‘stuck’ in an endless cycle of circular worrying and obsessing. The origin of these anxious thoughts is often a desperate attempt by the man to ‘think’ his way out of experiencing the post-traumatic feelings. Over the years these thoughts become attached to ‘worry objects’ and can become habitual (For example: “Why didn’t I do X or Y?” “If only such-and-such had not happened.” “Why did this happen to me?” and so on).
Rigid beliefs: These are very strongly held, emotionally charged beliefs about self, right and wrong, politics, the meaning of life and so on. When we are growing up, ideas which make sense to us become beliefs. One of the reasons ideas make sense to us is that they help us manage bad feelings. Examples could include:
Religious beliefs that help with notions of forgiveness, where the a person is experiencing shame.
Political beliefs which allow anger to be expressed against one group or another, where it is psychologically dangerous to feel anger against the perpetrator.
Spiritual beliefs that the world is basically a good or rational place which help guard against feelings of terror and betrayal.
Keep in mind that we are not saying that just because a person believes something which helps them manage their feelings, that what they believe in is not reasonable or true! We are not concerned with the objective truth or otherwise of someone’s beliefs. What we are saying is that some beliefs do help people manage strong feelings and from that point of view, can be seen as a strategy.
Many men who have survived child abuse find that being in relationships triggers bad feelings. Here are some of the main ways men attempt to manage their feelings within relationships.
Clinging to relationships: Some men who have experienced neglect or lack of care can be so afraid of losing a relationship that they become vulnerable to entering into abusive or unhappy relationships. Alternatively, such men may also act in controlling or abusive ways within relationships to try to keep the relationship together. Worry about losing their partner, feelings of despair or anger, jealousy, even stalking and violence, are not uncommon.
Controlling relationships: Some men are susceptible to feeling like they are being controlled, exploited or abused within relationships. This can lead to them reacting with attempts to strongly control the relationship, which can in turn lead to abuse or violence toward their partner. Some men protect themselves by remaining distant or inaccessible within the relationship. It is common for men who experienced sexual violence to have lots of feelings of anger in relation to their abuse and for this to spill over into their relationships.
Avoidance of relationships: For some men, suspicion about the motives of others may lead to an inability to maintain relationships. This sort of hyper-vigilance for abuse was obviously adaptive in earlier life, but now may interfere with fulfilling relationships. Men may also feel they are unlovable or not worthy of a relationship. These perceptions, which are similar to self-blame (see above) may be easier to manage than dealing with the emotions caused by the abuse.
‘Pursuit/retreat’ relationships: Some men combine all these approaches into a pattern of intense preoccupation with and pursuit of a new partner, swift disillusionment once the relationship is established, and anger or rejection of the relationship. This strategy attempts to meet the man’s need for affection with the pursuit of new relationships, but tends to be sabotaged by the opposite strategy of distancing/avoidance once a partner becomes so close that the man feels emotionally threatened.
Attachment to the perpetrator: A very common pattern is a boy or man remaining in some sort of relationship with the person who committed the abuse. The purpose of this strategy was originally to earn love, or at least some physical security, from the abuser. Another reason may be that maintaining this connection with the abuser can give a sense of control over the relationship. This pattern may continue for years after the abuse has stopped. This pattern may also make the man more susceptible to further abuse from other people who in some way are reminiscent of fill the same emotional niche as the perpetrator.
Emotional reactivity: A person is ‘emotionally reactive’ when he responds very quickly with very strong emotion – essentially an uncontrolled or ‘excessive’ emotional response. Some men can use less painful emotions, such as anger, to mask the experience of more painful ones like sadness or grief. Being angry, or close to anger, all the time, can lead to a ‘rush’ like those described above and can be psychologically addictive. Other emotions – for example, depression or despair – can sometimes be used in the same way. (Read more about Men, emotions and childhood sexual abuse).
Depression: Some clinicians consider depression a strategy for conserving resources and protecting deep emotions. If depression goes on for a long time after the abuse has stopped, it can become difficult to move on from it; this can be particularly so if the person stuck in the depression has a lot of negative judgements about it (“I should just get over it,” “I should be achieving more,” etc).
Avoidance and phobias: Avoiding activities, people, or places which trigger memories of the abuse. The short-term benefit of this is obvious. In the longer term, the person’s life will become more and more confined – especially since phobias tend to expand and grow to encompass broader and broader situations over time.
Hyper-vigilance: The ‘hyper-vigilant’ person is always alert for, and expecting, something dangerous to happen. It creates a heightened sense of anxiety and ‘jumpiness’, and may also contribute to difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, and irritability. Hyper-vigilance is a good strategy for avoiding real danger such as abuse, but once the abuse is no longer happening, it can lead to a very anxious life, or seeing threats where there are none.
Flashbacks, nightmares, other intrusive memories: ‘Flashbacks’ are memories of past trauma which feel like it is happening again in the present. Some clinicians believe that intrusive memories, whether experienced waking or in dreams, are attempts by the mind to begin processing the feelings related to the trauma. Often men will need professional help to move past this point. (Read more about dealing with flashbacks and dealing with nightmares).
‘Dissociation’ is the psychological phenomenon of becoming ‘detached’ from a key part of your personal experience. It is a way of ‘splitting off’ from suffering so that the pain (feelings and usually memories) is consigned to another part of the mind. In situations of very great and ongoing abuse, dissociation is sometimes the only strategy that young children have.
Dissociative strategies can cause significant difficulties in later life and should be worked on with an experienced professional specialist. Here are some forms of dissociation:
Dissociated emotional states: Finding yourself switching between very different or opposite emotional states.
Disengagement/’spacing out’: Losing awareness of the present for short (or sometimes longer) periods. Sometimes there may be loss of memory, or ‘coming to’ in a place or situation and not knowing how you got there.
Derealisation: Feeling like you are living in a movie or a dream; nothing feels real.
Depersonalisation: Feeling outside your own body, watching yourself do things from a distance.
Pain or body symptoms: For some people, physical pain or discomfort which does not appear to have a medical cause may be related to early abuse.
These examples are less common, but do occasionally happen in response to trauma:
Fugue: Travelling significant distances, sometimes over long periods of time, with no memory or knowledge of it.
More than one personality: The experience of having different people living inside you. Known as dissociative identity disorder.
As we discussed before, all these strategies work in pretty much the same way. The purpose of the strategies is to avoid the feelings which are attached to the memories of the abuse.
Almost all these strategies result in an over-avoidance of fear. In one way, the fear of bad feelings is like a phobia. Phobias tend to get broader over time. For example, a man who is assaulted in a public place first begins avoiding that place, then over time any place where there are people like the ones who assaulted him, then any public place with people, then any place outdoors, and eventually he finds it difficult to leave the house.
‘Rewarding’ a phobia, by always giving in to the fear it generates, makes it grow. We sometimes call this ‘feeding the phobia’. This in turn leads to an ever-increasing difficulty in facing fear, anxiety, or stress. Most of the strategies we have described can lead to a person having a very low tolerance of stress, which in turn makes life more difficult, or shuts off options or opportunities which would otherwise be open to the person.
Thinking about suicide is a strategy for trying to avoid present pain. It can be a fantasy or daydream about being free from terrible feelings. But it is a fantasy which carries a great risk.
Suicidal thoughts can range from fantasies about dying as a way to be free of the present pain, to detailed plans to kill yourself. Even if your thoughts seems like they are ‘just’ passing ideas or fantasies, it is still important to find someone to talk to. The more detailed your thoughts and plans are about suicide, the more important it is to get help.
If you think you might harm or attempt to kill yourself, call for help immediately. Reach out to someone you trust and ask for help. Tell them honestly how you feel, including your thoughts of suicide.
Call Lifeline 13 11 14; or
Call 000 (emergency services); or
Go, or have someone take you, to your local hospital emergency department.
It is important to remember you do not have to go through this alone. We urge you to try talking to people about your thoughts. If you can’t or don’t want to talk to your friends and/or family, you can contact a crisis service specialised in hearing your difficulties. Try and share your thoughts with someone you trust or a professional who understands the impacts of trauma. We encourage you to get rid of anything you have obtained to hurt yourself with.
A general note on the impacts of childhood sexual abuse
The impacts of any trauma experienced in childhood tend to be more severe than those experienced as an adult. If you are a man who experienced child abuse, we hope this page is useful to you. However, it is very likely that you will need much more support than an introductory article of this kind. We urge you to consider getting some professional help if you have not already done so. The Get Support section of this website contains information about how to find services which might be useful.
THERE IS HOPE
When you were a child, suppressing or avoiding the feelings about the abuse was the only way to cope. Now you are an adult, it becomes possible, slowly, to face and process these feelings. And this in turn means that the strategies you developed to avoid the feelings are no longer needed.
The natural process of feelings is that you feel them, and then they pass. Feelings never last forever. They don’t even last for very long at a time – they tend to come, go, come back, and go again, until they are fully processed. The only feelings that stick around for long periods are feelings you are putting off experiencing out of fear.
Remember, feelings can’t kill you. By definition, they are smaller than you; they are inside you, not the other way around. They can’t sweep you away or drown you.
Having said this, facing and processing these feelings should be done carefully and slowly. We are not big fans of dramatic ‘emotional breakthroughs’. This work does not have to be done quickly. It is safer and less exhausting to do it slowly and in manageable chunks.
Very important note – we are not suggesting that you should use this outline, or this website, to do this work by yourself. This work should only be carried out with the support of one or more professionals specializing in trauma-informed counselling or therapy. Dangerous memories should only be confronted in a safe environment. Take a look at the list of services in Queensland.
This article was adapted from resources developed by Jack Dalby and the team at SAMSSA. Thank you for sharing.
Over the weekend before Australia Day (Fri-Mon 17-20 Jan 20) there was a dramatic leap in Viewers of our RCbbc Blog! As shown, by the following jump in Stat’s, there was a profound interest in recent Statements of Past Students + their Families. Of great intrigue, is the increased overlaps between publicly reported instances of ChildSexualAbuse and the Elite levels of society. Throughout many countries, schools and religions there is commonly cases of the ‘untouchable Elites’ overpowering the ‘lower, working class’.
It’s particularly worth noting that BBC’s current Headmaster, Paul Brown has removed the abilities of ‘Low SES backgrounds’ Applicants to be favoured in Scholarship + Bursary Applications. Whilst this may be a short-term remedy, the human nature of pedophiles will continue. As demonstrated by numerous current + previous staff, animal instinct is to shift to another ‘hunting ground’, or strategically-further-seclude their predator behaviours. Cessation (stopping) is not an option, after experiencing BBC’s earlier scenarios.
Counselling is also worth noting as a great resource, as after countless solo attempts even further detail has become revealed of my own BBC Old Boys’ abuses. This brings to mind the saying that “there’s more than one way to ‘skin a 🐈’”.
A Europe-wide CNN poll in November 2018 found a rise in anti-Semitism and a decline in Holocaust memory .
Anti-Semitic incidents in Germany rose by almost 10% in 2018, to a 10 year high .
In December 2018, a Greek Holocaust Memorial was desecrated for the fourth time .
In January 2019 a synagogue was vandalized in the Bulgarian capitol Sofia .
In June 2019 planned construction on the site of mass graves dating to the Holocaust came to light in the Ukraine .
By July 2019 anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom had spiked . A video showing West Ham soccer fans singing an anti-Semitic fight song about rival club Tottenham Hotspur (which has a largely Jewish fan base) was posted to Twitter.
There is a monster growing in Europe. Anti-Semitism has increased substantially since the 2015 immigration crisis . France reported a 74% increase in violence against Jews.
An alarming pattern of anti-Semitism is spreading across Europe, from France to Germany to Sweden and elsewhere on the continent… Antisemitism is not, and cannot, remain just a Jewish problem. This is an issue that affects all Europeans, and Western society as a whole.”
Physical abuse is the form of child abuse most frequently reported by the media and most familiar to the public. It is, also, the form most frequently fatal.
Children can and do sustain bumps and bruises, in the course of ordinary play. Physical abuse, however, is deliberate harm by a parent or caregiver.
An abuser may characterize physical abuse as punishment for a perceived infraction. But such punishment is out of all proportion to the infraction, and severe beyond a child’s capacity to understand or endure it.
The warning signs of physical abuse include the following :
A child who has unexplained burns, bruises, bite marks, or broken bones.
A child who has fading bruises after an absence from school, particularly patterned injuries (in the shape of a belt buckle or stove burner, for example) or injuries in normally protected areas of the body like the genitals, inner arms, back, or buttocks.
A child who shrinks from adults, as if fearful of being struck.
A child who seems reluctant to go home after school, and/or frightened of his/her parents.
A child with mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression.
A child who says his/her injury was caused by a parent or caregiver.
Children subjected to physical abuse like “Shaken Baby” Syndrome during the early years of life can experience brain damage, loss of hearing, injury to the spinal cord, and death.
The parent responsible for inflicting injury on a child – or attempting to “cover” for an offending partner – may offer inconsistent (or unconvincing) explanations for that child’s injuries.
Such a parent may describe his/her child as “evil” or in other highly negative terms. The parent may use (or recommend that a teacher use) harsh physical discipline on his/her child.
Other potential danger signals include a prior history of abuse by the parent with the same or another child, and/or physical abuse of that parent as a child.
ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth:
The Honourable Justice Peter David McClellan AM, Mr Robert Atkinson, The Honourable Justice Jennifer Ann Coate, Mr Robert William Fitzgerald AM, Dr Helen Mary Milroy, and Mr Andrew James Marshall Murray
WHEREAS all children deserve a safe and happy childhood.
AND Australia has undertaken international obligations to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect children from sexual abuse and other forms of abuse, including measures for the prevention, identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow up of incidents of child abuse.
AND all forms of child sexual abuse are a gross violation of a child’s right to this protection and a crime under Australian law and may be accompanied by other unlawful or improper treatment of children, including physical assault, exploitation, deprivation and neglect.
AND child sexual abuse and other related unlawful or improper treatment of children have a long-term cost to individuals, the economy and society.
AND public and private institutions, including child-care, cultural, educational, religious, sporting and other institutions, provide important services and support for children and their families that are beneficial to children’s development.
AND it is important that claims of systemic failures by institutions in relation to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and any related unlawful or improper treatment of children be fully explored, and that best practice is identified so that it may be followed in the future both to protect against the occurrence of child sexual abuse and to respond appropriately when any allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse occur, including holding perpetrators to account and providing justice to victims.
AND it is important that those sexually abused as a child in an Australian institution can share their experiences to assist with healing and to inform the development of strategies and reforms that your inquiry will seek to identify.
AND noting that, without diminishing its criminality or seriousness, your inquiry will not specifically examine the issue of child sexual abuse and related matters outside institutional contexts, but that any recommendations you make are likely to improve the response to all forms of child sexual abuse in all contexts.
AND all Australian Governments have expressed their support for, and undertaken to cooperate with, your inquiry.
NOW THEREFORE We do, by these Our Letters Patent issued in Our name by Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the advice of the Federal Executive Council and under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Royal Commissions Act 1902 and every other enabling power, appoint you to be a Commission of inquiry, and require and authorise you, to inquire into institutional responses to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and related matters, and in particular, without limiting the scope of your inquiry, the following matters:
what institutions and governments should do to better protect children against child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts in the future;
what institutions and governments should do to achieve best practice in encouraging the reporting of, and responding to reports or information about, allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts;
what should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments that currently exist for responding appropriately to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, including addressing failures in, and impediments to, reporting, investigating and responding to allegations and incidents of abuse;
what institutions and governments should do to address, or alleviate the impact of, past and future child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, including, in particular, in ensuring justice for victims through the provision of redress by institutions, processes for referral for investigation and prosecution and support services.
AND We direct you to make any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you consider appropriate, including recommendations about any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms.
AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry and recommendations, to have regard to the following matters:
the experience of people directly or indirectly affected by child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, and the provision of opportunities for them to share their experiences in appropriate ways while recognising that many of them will be severely traumatised or will have special support needs;
the need to focus your inquiry and recommendations on systemic issues, recognising nevertheless that you will be informed by individual cases and may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities in individual cases;
the adequacy and appropriateness of the responses by institutions, and their officials, to reports and information about allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts;
changes to laws, policies, practices and systems that have improved over time the ability of institutions and governments to better protect against and respond to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts.
AND We further declare that you are not required by these Our Letters Patent to inquire, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that you are satisfied that the matter has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceeding.
AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry and recommendations, to consider the following matters, and We authorise you to take (or refrain from taking) any action that you consider appropriate arising out of your consideration:
the need to establish mechanisms to facilitate the timely communication of information, or the furnishing of evidence, documents or things, in accordance with section 6P of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 or any other relevant law, including, for example, for the purpose of enabling the timely investigation and prosecution of offences;
the need to establish investigation units to support your inquiry;
the need to ensure that evidence that may be received by you that identifies particular individuals as having been involved in child sexual abuse or related matters is dealt with in a way that does not prejudice current or future criminal or civil proceedings or other contemporaneous inquiries;
the need to establish appropriate arrangements in relation to current and previous inquiries, in Australia and elsewhere, for evidence and information to be shared with you in ways consistent with relevant obligations so that the work of those inquiries, including, with any necessary consents, the testimony of witnesses, can be taken into account by you in a way that avoids unnecessary duplication, improves efficiency and avoids unnecessary trauma to witnesses;
the need to ensure that institutions and other parties are given a sufficient opportunity to respond to requests and requirements for information, documents and things, including, for example, having regard to any need to obtain archived material.
AND We appoint you, the Honourable Justice Peter David McClellan AM, to be the Chair of the Commission.
AND We declare that you are a relevant Commission for the purposes of sections 4 and 5 of the Royal Commissions Act 1902.
AND We declare that you are authorised to conduct your inquiry into any matter under these Our Letters Patent in combination with any inquiry into the same matter, or a matter related to that matter, that you are directed or authorised to conduct by any Commission, or under any order or appointment, made by any of Our Governors of the States or by the Government of any of Our Territories.
AND We declare that in these Our Letters Patent:
child means a child within the meaning of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989.
government means the Government of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, and includes any non-government institution that undertakes, or has undertaken, activities on behalf of a government.
institution means any public or private body, agency, association, club, institution, organisation or other entity or group of entities of any kind (whether incorporated or unincorporated), and however described, and:
includes, for example, an entity or group of entities (including an entity or group of entities that no longer exists) that provides, or has at any time provided, activities, facilities, programs or services of any kind that provide the means through which adults have contact with children, including through their families; and
does not include the family.
institutional context: child sexual abuse happens in an institutional context if, for example:
it happens on premises of an institution, where activities of an institution take place, or in connection with the activities of an institution; or
it is engaged in by an official of an institution in circumstances (including circumstances involving settings not directly controlled by the institution) where you consider that the institution has, or its activities have, created, facilitated, increased, or in any way contributed to, (whether by act or omission) the risk of child sexual abuse or the circumstances or conditions giving rise to that risk; or
it happens in any other circumstances where you consider that an institution is, or should be treated as being, responsible for adults having contact with children.
law means a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory.
official, of an institution, includes:
any representative (however described) of the institution or a related entity; and
any member, officer, employee, associate, contractor or volunteer (however described) of the institution or a related entity; and
any person, or any member, officer, employee, associate, contractor or volunteer (however described) of a body or other entity, who provides services to, or for, the institution or a related entity; and
any other person who you consider is, or should be treated as if the person were, an official of the institution.
related matters means any unlawful or improper treatment of children that is, either generally or in any particular instance, connected or associated with child sexual abuse.
require you to begin your inquiry as soon as practicable, and
require you to make your inquiry as expeditiously as possible; and
require you to submit to Our Governor-General:
first and as soon as possible, and in any event not later than 30 June 2014 (or such later date as Our Prime Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, fix on your recommendation), an initial report of the results of your inquiry, the recommendations for early consideration you may consider appropriate to make in this initial report, and your recommendation for the date, not later than 31 December 2015, to be fixed for the submission of your final report; and
then and as soon as possible, and in any event not later than the date Our Prime Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, fix on your recommendation, your final report of the results of your inquiry and your recommendations; and
authorise you to submit to Our Governor-General any additional interim reports that you consider appropriate.
IN WITNESS, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.
WITNESS Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Dated 11th January 2013 Governor-General By Her Excellency’s Command Prime Minister
ENTERED ON RECORD by me in Register of Patents No. , page , on Secretary to the Federal Executive Council
State Letters Patent
All States have now issued Letters Patent or their equivalent, Instruments of Appointment, to appoint the six Commissioners to conduct an inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse under their laws.
The Commissioners were formally appointed under Western Australian law on 22 January 2013, Queensland law on 24 January 2013, New South Wales law on 25 January 2013, Victorian law on 12 February 2013, Tasmanian law on 4 March 2013 and South Australian law on 7 March 2013.
Amendment to Letters Patent
ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth:
The Honourable Justice Peter David McClellan AM, Mr Robert Atkinson, The Honourable Justice Jennifer Ann Coate, Mr Robert William Fitzgerald AM, Dr Helen Mary Milroy, and Mr Andrew James Marshall Murray
WHEREAS We, by Our Letters Patent issued in Our name by Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, appointed you to be a Commission of inquiry, required and authorized you to inquire into certain matters, and required you to submit to Our Governor-General a report of the results of your inquiry, and your recommendations, not later than 31 December 2015.
AND it is desired to amend Our Letters Patent to require you to submit to Our Governor-General a report of the results of your inquiry, and your recommendations, not later than 15 December 2017.
NOW THEREFORE We do, by these Our Letters Patent issued in Our name by Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the advice of the Federal Executive Council and under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Royal Commissions Act 1902 and every other enabling power, amend the Letters Patent issued to you by omitting from subparagraph (p)(i) of the Letters Patent “31 December 2015” and substituting “15 December 2017.”
IN WITNESS, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.
WITNESS General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Dated 13 November 2014 Governor-General By His Excellency’s Command Attorney-General
It is precisely our lack of knowledge and understanding that gives predators their edge. – Anna Salter, Psychologist
If child molesters depend upon our ignorance in order to hurt little ones, what steps can the faith community take to eliminate the edge and make sure that they don’t succeed? Learning how offenders think and act is the first step in making our faith communities safe from those who pose a risk to our little ones. This post will examine 5 common behavioral characteristics of child sexual offenders that we must understood if we are committed to eliminating their edge:
Offenders have many victims: We need to understand that most child offenders have multiple victims. One study indicates that child molesters who sexually victimize females outside of the home averaged approximately 20 different victims. That same study found that child molesters who sexually victimize males outside of the home averaged approximately 150 different victims! The importance of knowing this gravely disturbing information is to understand that those who sexually victimize children will continue to do so as long as they have access to children. It is not just the “known” offenders that must keep us vigilant. The fact that most offenders have multiple victims means that most offenders in our midst have never been caught. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we create environments that minimize the opportunities of any adult to access any child without strict supervision and ongoing accountability. We also eliminate the edge when we don’t get fooled by offenders who get “caught” and beg for “grace”, claiming that this was the only child they have ever victimized. Based upon objective statistics, the offender is likely lying, which means they are continuing to deceive in order to reestablish trust and access of our children.
Offenders can be the most unsuspected people: Unfortunately, many Christians still believe that they can spot a child molester simply by appearance. We are most often on the lookout for the “creepy looking” guy who hangs out at the park or outside of the school. First, all adults should be concerned and take action to protect children when they see such a person. However, do not allow that limited stereotype to identify those in our community who may be a danger to our children. I heard a child protection expert once say, it’s not the guy sitting alone at the party that we should be most concerned about, it’s the one hosting the party. When I was a prosecutor, I illustrated this point by asking prospective jurors, Can you tell me what a burglar looks like? This question often helped jurors understand that child molesters cannot be identified by appearance or social status. In my years as a child sexual abuse prosecutor, I prosecuted physicians, computer programmers, financial advisors, teachers, and even a child sexual abuse investigator! Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we focus on behavior, not looks or economic status.
Offenders are not strangers: Another unfortunate stereotype is that most offenders are strangers to the child. We must be vigilant in protecting our children from interacting with strangers. However, it is common knowledge that most children are not sexually victimized by strangers. In fact, one study found that only 10 percent of child molesters molest children that they don’t know. We must come to terms with the heartbreaking reality that those who pose the greatest risk to our children are within our families, churches, and circle of friends. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we are always on alert, even when our children are around those that they know and trust.
Offenders often prey upon trusting and vulnerable young people: In order to sexually victimize a child, an offender will first have to gain access to the child. As a result, offenders spend much time planning and executing what is commonly known as the “grooming” process. This is the process which the offender gains access to the child in order to develop a trusting and/or authoritative relationship. Once such a relationship has been created, the perpetrator is often free to abuse. Offenders often access children by, 1) exploiting the already existing position the offender has with the child or the child’s family (this can include family members, teachers, friends, coaches, youth pastors, etc.), or 2) intentionally placing themselves in a position where the offender is able to target a child and begin to lavish that child with attention, gifts, and “love”. This can include targeting a “troubled” child, a child lacking a positive adult role model, or even a child who has similar interests. Both categories of access allow offenders to openly target the vulnerabilities of children in gaining their trust and silence. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we understand these dangerous dynamics and keep our antennas up to make sure that our children are carefully watched and protected. We must be vigilant in protecting ALL children.
Offenders minimize their criminal actions: Just this past week, I recently read a very disturbing article by a former youth pastor and convicted child sexual offender. Not once did this person acknowledge that his grooming and subsequent sexual contact with a child in his youth group was criminal and reprehensible. In fact, he repeatedly referred to the sexual victimization of this minor as a “relationship” and compared his actions with the adultery of King David. It wasn’t until the end of the article that I even realized this person had sexually abused a child! This offender was so focused on himself that he seemed completely oblivious to how his crime will forever impact the victim in all aspect of her life. Perhaps he doesn’t really care. He ends the piece by writing, Sooner or later, all things come into the light (ie. Be careful because at some point you will get caught!). This article was a sobering reminder of another very disturbing statement from another offender that was recently published by a church. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we don’t allow them to minimize their crimes and don’t publish their self-deceptive and hurtful words for the world to read.
Since the posting of this blog, the above article has been removed by the Leadership Journal with an apology. It is encouraging that a Christian publication listened and decided to help eliminate the edge!
These general characteristics are just a starting point as we seek greater knowledge and understanding on how best to eliminate the edge from the predators who have tragically infiltrated all aspects of our faith culture. Ultimately, our objective is not merely to eliminate the edge, but to make it impossible for child sexual offenders to continue hiding and offending in the communities that should be the safest for all God’s children.
This necessary objective will be achieved only If the Church is willing to listen and learn. Are we?