As devastating as dealing with any of these hard truths may be, together we’re taking ideas further than what had been publicly considered by the Royal Commission. In piecing the overlapping empty bits together, some common patterns or habits are becoming known. “Denial of Responsibility” seems alike another level of Authority distancing themselves from their involvement in the CSA happenings under their watch. None of which would’ve happened, had these positions been operating as they’ve now been notified. Interesting, how legal Damages may proceed?
Having re-watched a favourite TV Series (Da Vinci Demons), attention was drawn to something that’s now screaming out louder and loader. Despite the appalling deception, tomfoolery & murders committed in the times of Leonardo Da Vinci (15th Cen.) in this staged re-enactment, the common powers possessed by the Catholic Church was always taken for granted. Social dynamics included a default framework of the church’s primary inclusion in the basic ecosystem. Australia’s recent mis-focus on Captain Cook, ahead of Captain Flinders & Bungaree. Each summarises how History has been remembered, not genuinely proven.
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had been the Initial national confrontation, followed by numerous other global countries addressing this common issue. Catholic Vatican’s Pope (Francis) has at least begun publicly addressing this issue, after Millenia of denials-hiding evidence-moving wrongdoers & almost a century of rewritten Papal Orders advocating sins being hidden. As mammoth an issue this is, what’s becoming apparent is the immensity of addressing it. The lives of these children is paramount, as is the resulting residual impacts these Sexual Abuses has had. Postings such as these help share some of these factual truths.
As numerous bodies of Surviving Victims, Medical, Commercial & Community bodies provide help, News reports in the Journalism of individual to broad scale cases & each country offering their own nuances of interpreting & reacting to these ordeals – the immensity of this understanding also risks being ‘swept under the carpet‘ as CSA had been, to grow to what it had. Together, we need to openly address this publicly, openly, transparently & suitably as possible. Groups such as this RoyalCommBBC are only getting started on our mission & via your simply sharing these posts about your contacts – another Survivour may remember things & get suitable help, pictures may remind a family of an unsolved mystery or News of someone being caught out for inappropriate behaviour triggers off flashbacks leading to arrest. We hope this helps out open up our lives.
This newsletter includes an update on institutions as they finalise arrangements to participate in the National Redress Scheme.
More institutions have undertaken the steps to formally join the National Redress Scheme, they are listed below.
- Geelong Grammar School Ltd
- The Presbetarian Church of Queensland
Six more Anglican organisations have joined represented by Anglican Representative Limited, they are:
- Anglican diocese of Bendigo
- Anglican diocese of the Northern Territory
- Anglicare Northcoast
- Camberwell grammar school
- St John’s Anglican College and The Springfield Anglican College (FSAC Ltd)
- The William Branwhite Clark College Council
One more Catholic institution represented by Australian Catholic Redress Limited has also joined the Scheme, it is:
- The personal ordinate of our Lady of the Southern Cross
This means 34 out of the 35 Catholic Dioceses and Archdiocese have now joined the Scheme.
In addition, one more Catholic Religious Order has also joined the Scheme, it is:
- Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart
For more information about which sites are covered by these institutions go to the Scheme’s website. There is also a full list of institutions that have joined the Scheme at: www.nationalredress.gov.au/institutions/joined-scheme.
Where do I get Support?
Redress Support Services are available to help people understand the Scheme, provide emotional support and guide people through the application process. A list of support services is available on the website.
Those who need immediate emotional support can contact:
As frightening as it may be, it’s becoming highly publicised that ‘support is available from the … church/club/school/Institution‘. BEWARE: These may be another example of ‘bight the hand that feeds you‘. Also, that numerous wrongdoers of CSA were often involved as ‘Counsellor’, ‘Supporter’, ‘Family-liaison’ & so forth.
It has been found that experts in the fields of CSA Counselling+Support are available on both the CARC, knowmore & NationalRedressScheme sites. Often, these discussions & meetings are a much needed step in a victim’s recovery.
August 9, 2018. Anne
Through the Redress Scheme, those who have been sexually abused in Australian institutions now have the opportunity to obtain financial compensation, counselling and a personal apology for the horror they endured. But don’t for one minute think it will be an easy process.
On 14 September 2015 the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its Redress and Civil Litigation Report. After receiving submissions from more than 250 individuals and institutions, the 589-page report made 99 recommendations. There was an enormous financial cost to the Australian public for the Royal Commission so we should listen to what the Royal Commission had to say.
Here are some of the most significant recommendations regarding the Redress Scheme and what’s happened so far:
A national redress scheme for the estimated 60,000 likely claimants be established and commence accepting applications from survivors no later than 1 July 2017.
The Redress Scheme started on 1 July 2018, just a year late. While everyone can start the application process, my understanding is that some State legislation needs to catch up. Applications from Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia can be received but they can’t yet be assessed.
The major perpetrators of institutional child sexual abuse (the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, Salvation Army, Scouts and YMCA) have agreed to join the scheme. However, the current lack of legislation in some States creates a loophole, so let’s hope those non-government institutions don’t use it to opt out.
The redress scheme to be independent of the offending institutions.
The applications for redress will be assessed by Independent Decision Makers, but we don’t know who they are. The Redress Scheme assures applicants that the Independent Decision Makers have no connection with participating institutions. Does this mean there will be no Catholic, Anglican or Uniting Church parishioners? No ex or current members of the Salvation Army, Scouts or the YMCA? How can the assessment process be transparent if the Independent Decision Makers are not named?
Appropriate redress for survivors would include a financial payment up to $200,000.
The payment through the National Redress Scheme has been reduced to a maximum of $150,000.
$150,000 is a paltry amount for the impact of child sexual abuse on your life. It would go nowhere near compensating Ms Forgotten Australian for her lack of ability to sustain full-time employment throughout her life, without taking into account her suffering. The average redress payment is expected to be $76,000 and many will get less than that.
Applicants may receive a greater payout if they pursue compensation through the court process but the burden of proof will be greater in the court system than through the Redress Scheme. However, the burden of engaging in the court process is likely to be more adversarial and stressful than the Redress Scheme. It’s challenging for survivors to provide the detailed particulars (time, date, location etc) often required for the court process, particularly if the child sexual abuse occurred many years ago and occurred multiple times.
The Redress Scheme is of significant benefit for the perpetrating institutions as payouts are likely to be less than through the legal process, and they won’t be tied up and financing legal processes for years.
A person should be eligible to apply to a redress scheme for redress if he or she was sexually abused as a child in an institutional context and the sexual abuse occurred, or the first incidence of the sexual abuse occurred, before the cut-off date.
That is unless you’re in prison. If you are currently incarcerated you cant apply, you can do so when you’ve been released. If you’re out of gaol, but you’ve served more than a 5-year term then probably no redress for you, unless you are able to prove how rehabilitated you are.
Now I don’t want to get into an argument about prisoners getting money but here’s what infuriates me. The Royal Commission visited 60 prisons to take statements from prisoners who had been sexually abused in institutions. They did this because there is such a clear understanding that child sexual abuse derails peoples lives to such an extent they are over-represented in the prison system.
I provided counselling to prisoners who had attended private sessions with the Royal Commission. Their accounts of the sadistic child sexual abuse perpetrated against them were horrendous. For some, the Royal Commission was the first time they had disclosed the abuse and the process of disclosing was traumatic.
So the Redress Scheme seems to be saying to prisoners “thanks for telling us what happened to you, we know that it stuffed your life up, but too bad, no Redress for you or your family”. Surely prisoners could apply and, if successful, any payout placed in trust.
Oh… and if you’re not an Australian citizen or permanent resident you also can’t apply. So too bad if you came to Australia, went to school here, got sexually abused as a child at school and then went home! No redress for you either.
A redress scheme should rely primarily on completion of a written application form.
Sounds easy, but filling out that 44-page document is complex. Some survivors believed that their statement to the Royal Commission would have been sufficient as an application. It’s agonising to document a detailed account of child sexual abuse and then send it off to be assessed, by an unknown party. Once again survivors are placed in the role of having to prove what happened to them.
There are supports available to help people with the application process. You can access them here: Redress Support Services. I would encourage anyone completing the application to be supported by family, friends and/or the support services offered.
Counselling and psychological care should be supported through redress in accordance with the following principles:
New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have free counselling services as part of the redress offer. Counselling services in Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia have not yet been finalised. Applicants living where States are not offering free counselling services will receive a payment of $5,000 to cover counselling. That’s about 25 sessions throughout a lifetime. That may not be sufficient to address complex trauma.
Some final thoughts….
We now have a situation where some child abuse survivors may feel abandoned by the Redress Scheme. If you were in an institution and were viciously beaten and neglected, but not sexually abused you are now “unlucky” because you can’t access the Redress Scheme. The Royal Commission didn’t just uncover child sexual abuse, it also uncovered systemic physical and emotional abuse and neglect in institutions and yet these non sexually abused survivors have no access to the Redress Scheme.
I’m not sure the Redress Scheme sets right that which is morally wrong.
What are your thoughts regarding the Redress Scheme?
PHOTO After surviving years of abuse at the hands of her family, Sarah has started a family of her own. ABC NEWS: TRACEY SHELTON
Sarah is living proof that “life after hell” is possible.
For more than 20 years she says she endured beatings, rape and degradation at the hands of her family.
She tells of being locked in sheds, made to eat from a dog’s bowl and left tied to a tree naked and alone in the bush.
Her abusers spanned three generations and included her grandfather, father and some of her brothers. She has scars across her body.
“This is from a whipper snipper,” she says, pointing to a deep gouge of scar tissue wrapped around the back of her ankle. Higher up is another she says was caused by her father’s axe.
Family violence support services:
- 1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
- Women’s Crisis Line 1800 811 811
- Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491
- Lifeline (24 hour crisis line) 131 114
- Relationships Australia 1300 364 277
But Sarah survived.
Now she is speaking out in the hope of empowering others trapped in abusive situations.
“There is life after hell, but you need to learn how to believe in yourself,” she says.
A reality for many Australian adults
As confronting as Sarah’s case may be, she is not alone.
While most people assume child abuse ends at adulthood, it can bring control, fear and manipulation that can last a lifetime.
Incestuous abuse into adulthood affects roughly 1 in 700 Australians, according to research by psychiatrist Warwick Middleton — one of the world’s leading experts in trauma and dissociation. If that estimate is accurate, tens of thousands of Australian adults like Sarah are being abused by family members into their 20s or even up to their 50s.
PHOTO Warwick Middleton is one of the world’s leading experts in trauma and dissociation. ABCNEWS Tracey Shelton
“It’s a mechanism of ongoing conditioning that utilises every human’s innate attachment dynamics, and where fear and shame are used prominently to ensure silence — particularly shame,” says Professor Middleton, an academic at the University of Queensland and a former president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation.
He has personally identified almost 50 cases among his patients, yet there was no literature or studies on this kind of abuse when he began publishing his findings.
Hidden in ‘happy’ families, successful careers
Sydney criminologist Michael Salter has found similar patterns in his own research. He said cases of incest are “fairly likely” to continue into adulthood, but this extreme form of domestic abuse is unrecognised within our health and legal systems.
“It’s unlikely that these men are going to respect the age of consent,” says Mr Salter, who is an associate professor of criminology at Western Sydney University. “It doesn’t make sense that they would be saying, ‘Oh you’re 18 now so I’m not going to abuse you anymore’. We’re just not having a sensible conversation about it.”
The ABC spoke with 16 men and women who described being abused from childhood into adulthood.
They said their abusers included fathers, step-fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings and uncles.
Medical and police reports, threatening messages and photos of the abuse supported these accounts. Some family members also confirmed their stories.
PHOTO Sarah’s father often recorded the abuse. This image is the first in a series of five she discovered in the family home.
Sarah says her father and his friends photographed some of her abuse. One image shows her beaten and bloodied with a broken sternum at five. In another photo (pictured here), she cowers as her father approaches with a clenched fist.
Most victims described their families as “well-respected” and outwardly “normal-looking”, yet for many the abuse continued well after their marriage and the birth of their own children, as they navigated successful careers.
“You see a lot of upper-income women who are medical practitioners, barristers, physiatrists — high functioning in their day-to-day lives — being horrifically abused on the weekends by their family,” Mr Salter says.
Helen, a highly successful medical professional, says she hid sexual abuse by her father for decades.
“They didn’t see the struggle within,” she says.
A mental ‘escape’
Professor Middleton describes abuse by a parent as “soul destroying”. In order to survive psychologically, a child will often dissociate from the abuse.
Compartmentalising memories and feelings can be an effective coping strategy for a child dependent on their abuser, says Pam Stavropoulos, head of research at the Blue Knot Foundation, a national organisation that works with the adult survivors of childhood trauma.
‘I learnt to disappear’
Like a “shattered glass”, three women discuss the myths and challenges of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
The extreme and long-lasting nature of ongoing abuse can result in dissociative identity disorder, which on the one hand can shield a victim from being fully aware of the extent of the abuse but can also leave them powerless to break away, Ms Stavropoulos says.
Claire*, 33, describes her dissociation as both her greatest ally and her worst enemy.
“You feel like you’ve keep it so secret that you’ve fooled the world and you’ve fooled yourself,” she says.
In her family, women — her mother and grandmother — have been the primary physical and sexual abusers and she says some of her abuse is ongoing.
“In a way you have freedom, but at the same time you are trapped in a nightmare,” she says.
‘It’s like he’s melted into my flesh’
For many, the attachment to an abuser can be so strong, they lose their own sense of identity.
Kitty, who was abused by her father for more than five decades until his recent death, says she did everything her family said to try to win their love.
“I thought I was some kind of monster because I still love my father,” she says. “It’s like he’s melted into my flesh. I can feel him. He is always here.”
Raquel’s rage grew from her family’s dark past
Four years into my relationship with my new partner, I realised I was continuing a cycle of abuse. I am a survivor of family sexual abuse who was raised by a child molesterer, and I was releasing my rage on the closest person to me, writes Raquel O’Brien.
Mr Salter says the conditioning is difficult to undo, and often leaves a victim vulnerable to “opportunistic abuse” and violent relationships.
“If the primary deep emotional bond that you forge is in the context of pain and fear then that is how you know that you matter,” he says. “It’s how you know that you are being seen by someone.”
Many of those the ABC spoke with were also abused by neighbours or within the church or school system. Others married violent men.
“They don’t have the boundaries that people normally develop,” Mr Salter says, adding that parental abuse could leave them “completely blind to obvious dodgy behaviour because that’s what’s normal for them”.
‘You believe they own your body’
Professor Middleton said premature exposure to sex confuses the mind and the body and leaves a child vulnerable to involuntary sexual responses that perpetrators will frequently manipulate to fuel a sense of shame, convincing them they “want” or “enjoy” the abuse.
For Emma*, violent sexual assaults and beatings at home began when she was five and are continuing more than 40 years later.
“When you are naked, beaten, humiliated and showing physical signs of arousal, it really messes with your head. It messes with your sexuality,” she says.
“Your sense of what is OK and what isn’t becomes really confused. You come to believe that they literally own you and own your body. That you don’t deserve better than this.”
A medical report viewed by ABC shows Emma required a blood transfusion last month after sustaining significant internal tissue damage from a sharp object. The report stated Emma had a history of “multiple similar assaults”.
She said medical staff do want you to get help and sometimes offered to call police.
“What they don’t understand is that for me police are not necessarily a safe option,” she says.
As a teenager she had tried to report to the police, but was sent back home to face the consequences.
She said a “lack of understanding about the dynamics of abuse and the effects of trauma” mean victims rarely get the response and help they need.
While Emma has been unable to escape the abuse, she has made many sacrifices to shelter her children from it. But they still suffer emotionally, she says.
“It makes it hard for anyone who cares about you having to watch you hurt over and over again.”
Incest after marriage and kids
For Graham, it was devastating to find out his wife Cheryl* was being sexually abused by both her parents 10 years into their marriage.
“I had no idea it was going on,” he says, of the abuse that continued even after the birth of their children. “The fight between wanting to kill [her father] and knowing it’s wrong wasn’t fun. I don’t think people know what stress is unless they’ve been faced with something like that.”
With Graham’s support, the family cut contact with his in-laws. He says the fallout of this abuse ripples through society impacting everyone around both the abused and the abuser.
Mr Salter urges anyone suffering abuse to reach out for help, and for those around them to be supportive and non-judgemental.
“You can get out — don’t take no for an answer. Keep fighting until you find someone who is going to help you keep fighting,” he says.
A new life
Sarah met Professor Middleton after a suicide attempt at 14, but it took many years for her to trust and accept that things could change.
“I just couldn’t grasp I was free. It didn’t matter what anyone did,” she says.
“I still felt overall that my family was in control of me and at any moment they could kill me.”
Through therapy with Professor Middleton — who she spoke of as the only father figure she has ever known — and the support of her friends and partner, Sarah finally broke away from her abusive family to start a new life of her own.
“You need people to help you through it. In the same way that it took other people to cause you the pain, it takes new people to replace them and help you give yourself another go,” she says.
“If I can give hope to one other person out there, then all my years of pain will not have been for nothing.”
*name changed to protect identity
During listening to a recent Audio recording of ‘What is Child sexual abuse & neglect’, it was realised that in my process of meeting with Counsellors & Therapists re: Brain Injury – I’d also been speaking about my CSA history. I highly recommend any CSA Survivour to meet with someone & organise regular meetings with Counsellors-Psychologists. I already had theses Appointments arranged, yet anyone else should make use of them.
Although mainstream media promote most NEWS releases, with ‘surprise-denial-regret’, any acknowledgement of Child Sexual Abuse is taken with expectations by CSA Survivours & those who work in the field. Even the Catholic Church’s Hierarchy are now admitting there is a problem, which needs to be solved.
More & more CSA Survivours are being brought to awareness that those close to them may not change their POV, yet with the gradual International flow, parallel with MeToo Movements Equality may be coming more into balance(?). Alike earlier ‘pendulum’ posts, preparation for counter-swings to Racism-Sexism-Instabilities will always occur. Staying connected, with those who truly know, understand & share with you is most important.
If “all children deserve a safe and happy childhood”, as the Letters Patent began Australia’s recent CARC (Child Abuse Royal Commission) – how far along this journey are Survivors, Family-Friends, Institutions & Perpetrators? While some fairytales have more possibility of ‘safe & happy’ endings, reality is that multiple Victims are losing their chance to experience any Compensation &/or Redress from the Institutions & Perpetrators responsible. Perhaps this extension of time is part of the calculated risk of Predators targeting the Vulnerable … ‘don’t worry, they’ll be dead/unable/incapacitated before we need to worry about things’ may frequently be thought.
Back to the returning of our youth’s lost safety and happiness of childhood – this is a far greater accomplishment of “trust, intimacy, agency & sexuality” that many Victims have not fully experienced. I hope for more Messages-Posts-Questions-Discussions around these 4 broad points!