Royal Commission understands that making contact with us can be very challenging for survivors.
Speaking out can be an important personal step, but it can also bring up mixed feelings such as relief, elation, disappointment and grief. Sometimes it can bring up strong emotions about the abuse you suffered, like anger, distress and fear.
It may be the first time you have told anyone about the abuse, or it may bring back memories which are very hard to deal with. If someone has supported you in the past you may find you may want to connect with them again for help.
Alternatively, if you need help to share your story or to cope with the feelings you are experiencing, a list of support services who can assist you is provided in this booklet.
They divide people. They deter new relationships. And they freeze the development on individuals.
By Evan Imber-Black, published July 1, 1998 – last reviewed on June 9, 2016
There’s no question that family secrets are destructive. But it matters mightily when and how you reveal them. Resist the temptation to handle them at transition times such as weddings, graduations, and new beginnings.
As a family therapist, I’m a professional secret-keeper. I’m often ~the very first person with whom someone risks telling a longheld secret. Several decades of guiding people struggling with secrets have taught me that they have an awesome if paradoxical power to unite people–and to divide them.
From government conspiracies to couples having affairs, secrets permeate every level of society. Secrets have existed throughout time, but the nature of secrets has recently changed in our society. Today’s families face special dilemmas about secrecy, privacy, silence, and openness.
We live in a culture whose messages about secrecy are truly confounding. If cultural norms once made shameful secrets out of too many events in human life, we are now struggling with the reverse: the assumption that telling secrets–no matter how, when, or to whom–is morally superior to keeping them and that it is automatically healing. My own experience, however, has shown me that telling secrets in the wrong way or at the wrong time can be remarkably painful–and destructive.
The questions we need to concern ourselves with are: When should I keep a secret? How do I tell a secret without hurting anyone? How do I know the time is right? I’ve learned the answers as I’ve witnessed–sometimes with terror, more often with joy, and always with deep respect–families making the courageous journey from secrecy to openness.
Secrets are kept or opened for many complex motives, from self-serving abuses of power to altruistic protection of others. Understanding the best ways and situations in which to reveal a family secret can help you decide when and how to do so.
HOW SECRETS SABOTAGE
Although we encounter secrets in every area of life, they are perhaps most destructive when kept in the home. Families are support systems; our identity and ability to form close relationships with others depend upon the trust and communication we feel with loved ones. If family members keep secrets from each other–or from the outside world–the emotional fallout can last a lifetime.
There are four main ways that family secrets shape and scar us:
o they can divide family members, permanently estranging them;
o they can discourage individuals from sharing information with anyone outside the family, inhibiting formation of intimate relationships;
o they can freeze development at crucial points in life, preventing the growth of self and identity;
o they can lead to painful miscommunication within a family, causing unnecessary guilt and doubt.
o they can lead to painful miscommunication within a family, causing unnecessary guilt and doubt.
A person who seeks to undo the damage caused by family secrets must accept that revealing a secret is not a betrayal but a necessity Luckily, as you’ll see, it’s never too late to do so.
SHATTERING THE TRIANGLE
Not all secrets are destructive. Many are essential to establishing bonds between two people. When siblings keep secrets from their parents, for example, they attain a sense of independence and a feeling of closeness. But the creation of any secret between two people in a family actually forms a triangle: it always excludes–and therefore involves–another.
When family members suspect that important information is being withheld from them, they may pursue the content of the secret in ways that violate privacy. A mother reads her daughter’s diary. A husband rifles through his wife’s purse. Relationships corrode with suspicion. Conversely, family members may respond to a secret with silence and distance, which affect areas of life that have nothing to do with the secret.
Either way, the secret wedges a boulder between those who know it and those who don’t. To remove this obstacle, families must break the triangle formation.
Molly Bradley first called me during what should have been a joyous time. She had recently given birth. Her happiness, however, was bittersweet. Molly felt a deep need to surround herself with family but hadn’t spoken to her brother, Calvin, in six years. The reason, I discovered, reached back 30 years to a secret made by Molly’s mother.
When Molly, Calvin, and their youngest sister, Annie, were teenagers, their grandmother committed suicide. Molly and Annie were told she died from a heart attack. Only Calvin, the eldest, knew the truth. His mother made him promise not to tell. His sisters sensed a mystery, but if they asked about their grandmother, their mother switched topics.
Making secrets soon became the family’s modus vivendi. Their aunt committed suicide two years after their grandmother’s death. Calvin fathered a child out of wedlock. Each secret was kept from Molly and Annie, amplifying the family pattern of secrecy Calvin grew distant from his sisters, their relationship weakened by mistrust. Eventually, Molly guessed the truth of her grandmother’s death but, in her family’s style, told only Annie. Secrets between Calvin and his mother were matched by those between Molly and Annie, tightening family alliances.
From the outside, the family looked like two close pairs–Calvin and his mother, Molly and Annie. But the pairs were actually triangles; Calvin and his mother distanced themselves from the girls with their secret, forming one triangle, while Molly and Annie, keeping their own secrets from the rest of the family, formed another.
‘DON’T TELL ANYONE OUR BUSINESS’
Molly convinced her two siblings to enter therapy, but each felt that overcoming feelings of alienation was impossible. When I asked Annie if she’d ever considered confiding in Calvin as a child, she told me the thought had never occurred to her. If family members cannot even imagine a different way of interacting, then secrets have truly taken hold of their lives.
In order to bridge the distance between the Bradley children, I asked them to relive their memories of how it felt to keep–and be kept out of—secrets. Molly, Annie, and Calvin each acknowledged that their needs to connect with each other had gone painfully unmet. Calvin explained tearfully that being forced to keep information from his sisters left him unable to relate to them, causing him to withdraw into himself. Molly revealed that watching her infant son each day made her miss Calvin–and the relationship they’d never had more and more.
The siblings finally began to share long-held secrets, realizing that they were bound and supported by their desire for closeness. After the fourth session of therapy, they went to dinner together for the first time in years. “This was so different from any other family event,” Annie reported. “Things felt genuine for the first time.”
As a lifetime of confessions and hopes emerged into the open, the mangle of secrecy was replaced by one-toone relationships. When everyone in a family knows a secret, triangles cannot create barriers between members.
All families have some secrets from the outside world. Yours, no doubt, has shared jokes and stories told only within the family circle. You also have a zone of privacy that demarcates inside from outside, building your family’s sense of identity. But if a dangerous secret–one concerning an individual in immediate physical or emotional jeopardy–is held within your house, the boundaries between family and the rest of the world become rigid and impenetrable. Friends and relatives are not invited in, and family members’ forays out are limited. “Don’t tell anyone ourbusiness” becomes the family motto.
BREAKING FAMILY RULES
Some families create inviolable rules to keep information hidden, making it impossible for members to ask for assistance or to use needed resources in the outside world. Even problems that do not touch on the secret may go unresolved if resolution requires outside help.
When Sara Tompkins, 37, first came to see me, she spoke with great hesitation. “If my family knew I was speaking to you, they’d be very angry,” she confided. She told me about growing up in a family that completely revolved around her mothEr’s addiction to tranquilizers. “My father is a physician. To this day, he writes her prescriptions. No one was supposed to know. The worst part was, we were supposed to act like we didn’t know. Our family invented ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ long before the government ever thought of it.”
Even though Sara hadn’t lived with her family for 15 years, this was the first time she had ever broken the family rule against speaking about the secret. When Sara left home for college, she was surrounded with new and exciting faces, each seeking lifelong friends and stimulating late-night discussions. But Sara found herself unable to open up, ultimately finding few friends and fewer lovers. She found it difficult to reveal anything personal about herself to anyone, and even suspected others of withholding from her.
Secrets were how she had learned to process and handle incoming information. Sara finally sought therapy when she realized that she had never been able to sustain a romantic relationship past the second date.
When a family’s secret is an ongoing condition–such as drug addiction, physical abuse, an illness–then both family relationships and interactions with the outside world are profoundly affected. In families like Sara’s, members must organize their everyday lives around the needs of the secret while performing the breathtaking feat of pretending not to notice anything is out of the ordinary. Conversation is superficial, since what is truly important cannot be discussed. Members become paralyzed, unable to develop relationships with others or to deepen the relationships within the family.
Since individual well-being takes a backseat to group fidelity, being the family member who challenges internal secrets is difficult. Taking the risk of opening a long-held secret to friends and loved ones may seem like an act of betrayal. The anticipated catastrophe of exclusion from the family stops many people–often long after leaving home.
But breaking the rules of family secrecy is necessary to ensure the achievement of freedom and honesty crucial to making and sustaining authentic relation, ships. One of the best ways to ease into revealing long-hidden information is to tell an objective listener, like a therapist.
ROOM FOR REHEARSAL
Only rarely do my clients want their first and final telling to be with me. Making secrets with a professional helper is a double-edged sword. A client’s relationship with a therapist, minister, priest, or rabbi can be an excellent arena to dissolve shame, find acceptance and empathy, and seek new resources for support and strength.
At the same time, sharing secrets only with professionals may negatively affect marriage and other relationships. Important issues may be discussed more in therapy, for example, than at home. Instead of being a dress rehearsal for life, therapy becomes the show. Most often, I find that people want a receptive and erapathetic context in which to unpack a secret initially, room to explore the consequences of telling others, then the help to do it well.
Imagine if your sister made a secret with you on the eve of your wedding and told you that you must not tell your husband. Or you are dragged into a secret about your parents just when you are taking tentative steps into the outside world. If a secret is made at a key point in development, the natural unfolding of self and relationships may be frozen. The shifting of boundaries that ordinarily would occur is suspended, creating a developmental deep freeze.
Every family experiences developmental stages. These are most evident when someone enters the family by marriage or other committed relationship, birth, or adoption, and when someone exits the family by leaving home or through separation, divorce, or death. Such entrances and exits require that a family reinvent itself in order to accommodate new roles. The stages of development are not discrete events but rather processes that take place over time. When that process goes well, complex adjustments occur in every corner of the family. When a secret is made in the midst of this process, adjustment screeches to a halt.
Samuel Wheeler tried to leave home when he was 19, but his discovery of a central family secret pulled him back and short-circuited his young adulthood. When Sam came to see me, he was 34 and still struggling with the aftermath. Aimless, jobless, and depressed, Sam wondered why he had never really found his focus. As we explored his past, I realized that Sam’s life had frozen when his attempts to assert independence were squelched his first year of college.
Early in his first semester, Sam invited his mother to visit. “I was more than surprised when she arrived with a close friend of the family, Duncan,” said Sam. Each morning for three days, Mrs. Wheeler left Sam’s apartment at five A.M. and returned to have breakfast at eight o’clock. When Sam finally asked what was going on, his mother admitted that she and Duncan were having an affair. She also revealed that his younger sister had actually been fathered by Duncan.
“My mother had kept this secret for years,” Sam mused. “Why did she have: to put it in my face at that moment?” The ill-timed revelation kept Sam from proceeding with his new life and developing his own identity. While very bright, Sam did poorly his first year in college, dropped out, and went back home. He had subconsciously returned to play watchdog for the family’s relationships. His sister was only 15, and he was worried that she would discover the secret. He remained home until she left for college.
RESPECTING TRANSITION TIMES
Giving voice to the developmental deep freeze, Sam said, “Knowing these things about my mother’s life has kept me from changing my relationship with her and my dad in ways I would like. I wanted to get closer to my dad, but this secret is like a rock between us.”
Pulling Sam into a secret just as he and his family were moving apart also kept him from asserting independence. While there is no such thing as the perfect moment to open a secret, there are better occasions than a life-cycle ritual, such as a wedding or graduation. Because family relationships are already shifting, rituals may seem a perfect time to open a secret. The excitement of a major life change, however, will prevent resolution of the secret. Either the importance of the secret will be lost in the event, or the secret will diminish the importance of the ritual.
For family members to have the strength to handle a life-altering secret, it should be told during a normal time in everyday life. Otherwise, development linked to a life passage will stop in its tracks.
When secrets are as much a part of families as birthdays, it may seem impossible to extricate them from the daily routine. But I know it can be done. Each time I meet with a new client, I’m moved by the courage people bring to this endeavor, by the human desire to heal and to connect.
From the book The Secret Life of Families by Evan IrabetBlack, Ph.D. Copyright 1998 by Evan Imber-Black. Reprinted by permission of Bantam Books, New York, New York. All rights reserved.
If you are at greater risk, such as you are over 65 or have pre-existing conditions like heart disease, it’s reasonable to take extra precautions.
For most of us, our emotional response will largely come down to how risk-averse we are, explains David Savage, associate professor of behavioural economics at the University of Newcastle.
“On one end you have the people who are absolutely risk-averse; will go out of their way to avoid risk. These people will always have insurance even for the most bizarre things,” he says.
“They are the people panic-buying.
“At the other end you have what I would classify as risk-seeking people, otherwise known as teenage boys.”
What Dr Savage suggests we should all be aiming for is to be risk-neutral. Good at weighing up odds and responding accordingly.
But he acknowledges that can be difficult given how hard-wired risk aversion is for many of us.
“This aversion is not something we switch on and off, it’s part of our innate nature.”
He says telling people to be less risk-averse is like telling someone to stop being anxious.
Avoidance versus chaos
Your personality type will dictate what level of response you have to something like the spread of coronavirus, explains Dr Annie Cantwell-Bart, a psychologist specialising in grief and trauma.
“If, for example, you come from a family where avoidance style is what you’ve been taught, that’s what you will repeat,” she says.
“Or if you come from a fairly chaotic background where your dad has been in jail and mum is an alcoholic, you will hold a high level of anxiety in living anyway.”
She gives the example of her local barista, who is casually employed.
“When I asked how he was feeling, he said he doesn’t think about it, he just gets on with life.”
She says that avoidance style has its advantages and disadvantages.
“They risk not being prepared or cautious enough. He might feel some trauma if the boss of the cafe says we’re closing down for a fortnight, because he hasn’t prepared.”
On the other end of the scale, people might respond chaotically.
“Like the punch-up in the supermarket. Some people will … get agitated and it’s probably a fear the world will somehow not support them in any way,” Dr Cantwell-Bart says.
We should be more sensitive towards people with this level of anxiety, she says.
“It’s really important not to judge people … they are in a highly aroused anxious state.”
What we’ve been through shapes our response
Upbringing, cultural background and previous experiences all shape how we respond to difficult situations.
But it doesn’t always play out in ways you’d expect. For example, someone who has survived a similar incident previously may feel a false sense of security, rather than the need to be cautious or prepared.
Your beliefs may also cause you to underprepare.
“If you believe that everything is pre-ordained, and a higher power is directing your life, you may not bother with certain precautions,” Dr Savage says.
Having compassion and understanding
Dr Savage says Australians are living in a society that is becoming more individualist than collectivist.
“Half of us are going ‘that is very anti-social’, while the other half is saying ‘good on you’,” he says in regards to people stocking up on supplies.
Dr Cantwell-Bart says in a time of crisis, it’s important to be respectful and tolerant.
“It’s about being more compassionate. Understanding that people who might be behaving in ways we might not, are doing it for good reason.”
Dr Savage recommends taking a step back to remember we’re all different, and there isn’t always right and wrong.
“Take a little bit more time to say ‘I don’t understand what that person is doing, but is that a problem?'”
Does the mention of any of the terms of ‘corruption, abuse, deception, obstruction’ cause a creepy feeling, the hairs on the back of your neck stand, or a chill run down your spine? You may have been effected by any of inappropriate issues, that are still becoming prevalent today. Most of us are familiar with the saying of “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely”. (Lord Acton)
Translations of this are often made into areas of vulnerability: Teacher-Students (pedophilia), Church Leader-Youth (child sexual abuser), Sports Coach-Player (privatelessons), Disability Carer-disabled (manipulation), Government-Indigenous (stolen generations), Caretaker-Retiree (aged care abuse) and Banks-Customers (coercion). Thankfully, there’s been many Royal Commissions called, with more to come. Our ‘RoyalCommBBC’ is only a small example of what can be possible, when the Sharing of beneficial Information-News-Experiences-Solutions are made.
A great part of any Institution, is that like members typically stick together. It’s been found that when ‘reality hits home’, many of us acknowledge that they’re not alone AND there is a simple solution available. This is where RCbbc can help, in supporting past Students, Parents and Friends in contacting experts in their fields.
For many, the December/January holiday season may be a positive time of celebration with loved ones.
However, it can also be an intense and challenging time when feelings of isolation and loss can surface, and stress, anxiety and depression are heightened.
Support is available to help you if you need it.
The National Redress Scheme phone line will remain open over the holiday season (Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm local time) with the exception of 25 – 27 December 2019 and 1 January 2020.
Redress Support Services are available to provide free, confidential emotional and practical support before, during and after applying to the Scheme. The following Redress Support Services will remain open over the holiday season:
The remaining Redress Support Services will operate with revised opening hours over the holiday season. Alternative contact details will be provided on their answering machines, websites and/or social media pages.
As of 29 November 2019, the National Redress Scheme:
had received over 5,510 applications
made 1,096 decisions, including 792 payments totalling over $64.1 million, and 155 offers of redress awaiting an applicant’s decision
had an average payment amount of $81,000
was processing over 3,610 applications
had 591 applications on hold because one or more institution named had not yet joined, and 218 applications required additional information from the applicant.
Since 1 July 2019, more people have received redress than in the entire first year of the Scheme. From 1 July 2019 to 29 November 2019, 563 applications were finalised, resulting in 553 payments.
Find out more
To find out more about the National Redress Scheme, go to the website or call 1800 737 377from Australia or +61 3 6222 3455 from overseas (Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm local time with the exception of the December/January dates listed above).
HIS HONOUR: Anthony Kim Buchanan, you have pleaded guilty before me today to more than 30 offences involving the indecent treatment in various ways of young children who were in many respects in your care. Those offences appear to have commenced in 1980 and continued as late as the year 2000. During that time you were employed either as a teacher or as a personal development staff member at private schools of good fame and reputation in this area.
So far as the offences are concerned, they have been described to me in a convenient format in the schedule which has been tendered, and the learned Crown Prosecutor has touched briefly upon them.
I do not intend to dwell upon them. It can be said of them that they demonstrated on your part degrading and humiliating conduct towards the children who were the complainants. I think there is force in your counsel’s submission that with perhaps the exception of count 19 and 33 the offences involved largely exhibitionism and masochism by yourself.
In fairness I think if has to be said that the conduct described is in many respects not as horrendous as some of the descriptions that are commonly given in these types of cases, but having said that, of course, I repeat that they can only be regarded as most serious offences of a most degrading and humiliating kind.
The offences, of course, as I have just indicated, I regard as being very serious ones. What it seems to me compounds them very significantly in this case is the breach of trust that was involved with each of these offences. I think that is a very significant element to take into account on this occasion. That breach of trust is all the more exaggerated, it seems to me, if that is the right expression, by the fact that you were clearly not only a teacher of these children but you were one who was highly respected by the parents and by no doubt your colleagues at the schools at which you were employed.
Indeed, your role appears to be a greater one than merely a teacher. You were in some ways, it would seem, a counsellor to the student. Indeed, I think that was the capacity of your later employment, not only to the students but to their families and it was the trust implicit in such positions which was so terribly betrayed by you when you committed these offences. As I say, I do not intend to dwell on the offences. Their enormity speaks for itself.
The purposes of punishment are many, but it seems to me the most significant factors for me to take into account today are first the need to protect society. Secondly, the need to deter you from like offending in the future. Thirdly, the need to deter others who might be inclined or tempted to commit like offences in the future. Fourthly, I regard the denunciatory effect of sentencing, the need to state quite clearly and unequivocally society’s condemnation of this type of conduct.
As I say, they seem to me to be the most significant aspects of the punishment that I must impose to take into account, and I do not pretend to arrange them in any particular order, or that any particular significance should be placed on the order which I have mentioned them.
My usual course when sentencing and where a plea of guilty has been entered and particularly where an early plea has been entered is to recognise the early plea by a discount, if that is the right expression, because I think there are strong reasons why such pleas should be encouraged by our community.
The benefits of the saving to the community of the cost and time that trials involve is obvious. The more significant benefit, so far as I am concerned, and it is particularly pertinent in situations like these is that when an early intimation is given that a plea of guilty will be entered, the victims can then get on with their lives knowing that they will not have to relive their experiences by relating them to a group of strangers, and I think that is very important aspect.
As I say, usually it is my practice to reflect an early plea by reducing the head sentence and I then go on to consider other factors which may be pertinent to the question of what factors should be taken into account by way of mitigation. In this case, as I have already indicated, I intend to make a recommendation. It seems to me that one of the safeguards that society will have if that recommendation is acted upon will be that you will be subject to the supervision of the parole authorities. It seems to me to be desirable that that should be for as long a period as may lawfully be permitted. That is the reason why I do not propose to reflect your plea of guilty by a reduction in the head sentence. It should be given significant effect so far as the recommendation that I intend to make is concerned.
Your counsel has eloquently stated on your behalf, I think, all that can possibly be said by way of mitigation, and indeed there is much force in most of the submissions he has made to me.
I have already touched on the one factor which I regard as being very significant. That is your early plea. I have touched upon the benefits to society and, more importantly, the benefits to the victims which flow from that. It is true to observe you have been cooperative with the authorities from very shortly after these matters came to light.
An early plea is not always indicative of remorse. Often it simply reflects the strength of the Crown case. In your case, however, I am entirely satisfied that you have demonstrated remorse in a very significant way. I am satisfied that you have genuine remorse for what you have done.
It is not unusual for those who are before this Court to feel remorseful, but often one thinks that is more related to remorse about their own position rather than in respect of the position of their victims. Whilst no doubt you do feel considerable anguish about your own position, I am entirely satisfied that you have demonstrated genuine remorse so far as your victims are concerned. You appear to me to have compassion for and an understanding of their position.
You have taken steps by way of monetary compensation and by your apologies to in some way demonstrate that remorse and in some way address the harm you have done to your victims.
It seems to me you also have demonstrated some remorse for the damage which your actions must inevitably occasion to the schools at which you worked for many years.
I am satisfied that you have demonstrated a determination now to address the serious problems which you have. I am indebted to Dr Lynagh for his helpful and insightful report upon you and upon the problems which you have had and that you will face.
I should say that I take into account but not do not give particularly great weight to the fact that your own childhood experiences were in many ways somewhat frightening. They may well explain how it is you came to commit these offences, but it seems to me that for a man of your age and your obvious intelligence, it cannot be the case that they should be a significant mitigating factor.
I think it is also clear that you have retained the support of many in the community who are known to you and who, it is quite clear, in the past you have helped in significant ways. The references that have been put before me are eloquent about the compassion you have shown in the past and the understanding that you have shown to others in various unhappy circumstances. Those references come from students, from the families of students and from your former colleagues.
It seems to me that a common theme of those references are the writers expressing their dismay at learning of what you have done, to acknowledge what you have done for the evil that it was, but nonetheless to express support for you. It seems to me that it is to your credit that they should be able to feel that way. It is clear, as your counsel has said, that your teaching days are over. It is one of the tragedies of this case that it would seem to me that future students necessarily have to lose the talents of a very gifted teacher.
I take into account you are experiencing some health problems which may perhaps become more significant in the future.
In imposing the sentences I do upon you, as I have said, it seems to me we are dealing with essentially two courses of conduct separated by a number of years.
It is important to bear in mind, I think, that the public, the community has become increasingly aware of the types of problems caused by child abuse, child sexual abuse, and that concern in the community has been reflected over the years by Parliament as it has increased the penalties that apply.
Of course I am constrained by those penalties which existed at the time the offences were committed. It is for that reason it seems to me that the most appropriate course is to do as I indicated at the outset of these observations. That is, to impose a sentence of three years in respect of the earlier offences, five years in respect to the later offences.
Because it seems to me one can fairly look at the situation and see two separate courses of conduct, as I say, separated by some years, it seems to me appropriate, and indeed it seems to me that the enormity of your conduct calls for those sentences to be cumulative, whilst, as I have said, being concurrent within the temporal areas in which they were committed.
The orders I make therefore are these: on counts 1 to 19 I order that you be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Those sentences to be concurrent one with the other. On count 20 and the following counts, I order that you be imprisoned for five years, those sentences to be concurrent one with the other, but cumulative upon the earlier sentences.
I recommend that you be considered for post-prison community based release orders after 24 months from today. It will, of course, be a matter for the authorities at that time to consider whether it is safe for the community for you to re-enter it as a citizen.
The Crown have asked that I give consideration to the provisions of section 19 of the 1945 Act. That Act requires that I must be satisfied, if I am to make such an order, that there is a substantial risk that you will, upon your release, commit further offences of a sexual nature upon or in relation to a child under the age of 16.
I take into account the history that has been given to me of your offending in the past. I take into account the various steps you have taken, and which I have touched upon briefly since those matters were discovered to address your problems.
I place particular significance upon Dr Lynagh’s report. In saying that, of course, it is by no means clear that he guarantees success. He clearly does not. He acknowledges the difficulties that are faced by him and others of his profession who seek to help people such as yourself.
It seems to me that an order must be made upon a finding based that there is the substantial risk that is referred to. That finding, it seems to me, should be one made on the balance of probabilities.
Bearing in mind the consequences of making such an order it seems to me that whilst the balance of probabilities standard applies, I would nonetheless require proof of a fairly substantial nature to satisfy me to the requisite standard.
I find I am not satisfied that the risk referred to in the section exists in this case and I do not propose to make the order. In taking that course I am somewhat reassured by my understanding that it would be most unlikely you would regain teacher registration in this State and, secondly, by the fact that I understand that there are provisions now of a general application which would minimise the opportunities that would be open to you in the future to offend in a like manner.
Having imposed a sentence of five years’ imprisonment in respect of the later offences, I am also called upon to consider whether I should exercise my discretion and declare that you are a serious violent offender.
It is perhaps apparent from the orders that I have made that I do not regard that as being an appropriate order to make in this case and I will not make such an order.
Sexual abuse is any form of sexual violence, including rape, child molestation, incest, and similar forms of non-consensual sexual contact. Most sexual abuse experts agree sexual abuse is never only aboutsex. Instead, it is often an attempt to gainpowerover others.
Immediate crisis assistance after sexual assault can prove invaluable and even save lives. A person can report sexual assault by calling local police. Survivors may also wish to get a physical exam at a hospital.
Therapycan also be helpful for those who experienced sexual abuse in the past. Some therapists specialize in addressing the trauma of sexual assault. Long-term assistance may be beneficial to some survivors of sexual abuse.
TYPES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE
Sexual abuse is common, particularly forwomenand girls. Ninety percent of all rapes are committed against women. One in six women in America have experienced rape. One in five girls and one in 20 boys experience childhood sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse and sexual assault are umbrella terms used to refer to multiple crimes. These crimes include:
Rape: Forced sexual contact with someone who does not or cannot consent. Forcing sex upon someone who does not want it, who is intoxicated, or who is not legally old enough to give consent all count as rape.Date rapeis sexual assualt that occurs between people with an established relationship. A handful of states limit their definition of rape to forcible sexual intercourse. Yet any form of forcible sexual contact can have long-lasting effects on a person. Most states now recognize forced oral sex and similar forms of assault as rape.
Child molestation: Child molestation is any sexual contact with a child. Many children who are molested are too young to know what is happening and may not fight back. Some abusers use the child’s cooperation in these cases as “evidence” that no one was harmed. Examples of child molestation might include fondling or demanding sexual favors from a child.
Incest:Incestdescribes sexual contact between family members who are too closely related to marry. While incestuous sexual activity may occur between consenting adults, this is not common. Most reported incest occurs as child abuse. Over a third of American sexual assault survivors under the age of 18 are abused by a family member, according to latest statistics. However, incest is an underreported crime, so the actual number of incest survivors may be higher.
Non-consensual sexual contact: This category includes any unwanted sexual touching, such as groping or pinching. Attempted rape can also fall into this category.
Non-contact sexual abuse: Not all sexual abuse fits neatly into common legal or psychological definitions. For instance, parents who have sex in front of their children or who make sexually inappropriate comments to their children are engaging in sexual abuse. So-called revengepornographysites, which publish nude photos of people without their consent, are another form of sexual abuse.
The laws governing sexual abuse are constantly changing. For this reason, most professionals who work with sexual abuse survivors rely on the person’s feelings, not the law, when determining whether a sexual assault has occurred. For example, marital rape can be deeply traumatic, especially in an otherwise abusive relationship. Yet marital rape did not become a crime anywhere until the 1970s. It is still a challenging crime to prosecute.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE MILITARY
Sexual violence occurs in the U.S.militaryin high numbers. According to a 2014 report:
Nearly 5% of all women and 1% of all men on active duty reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact.
Nearly half of reports from women involved penetrative sexual assault (rape or penetration with an object). This rate was 35% for men.
Due to the gender ratios in the military, more men experience sexual violence than women. A man in the military is 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than a civilian man.
Most perpetrators commit these crimes out of a desire for domination. Offenders often wish to establish control over their “inferiors.” Sexual attraction is rarely the motivating factor.
Sexual violence among service members is an under-reported crime. Studies suggest only one in four survivors of military sexual assault report their attacks. Among male survivors, an estimated 81% never report their attacks.
People who report their assaults often face retaliation. In 2014, 62% of female reporters said they faced retaliation. Many were shunned by colleagues or blamed for the assault. Survivors of both genders may face consequences in their professional lives. Some are even discharged from the military.
Reporters may also face barriers to mental health treatment. Research suggests the military has falsely diagnosed many sexual assault reporters with personality disruptions as an excuse to discharge them. The Department of Veterans Affairs classifies personality disruptions as a pre-existing condition. Thus, it rarely covers the expense of survivors’ mental health treatment.
MALE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE
Menwho experience sexual assault can face severestigma. U.S. culture promotes astereotypethat men always want sex. Many people believe men cannot possibly be victims of rape.
When men report sexual assault, they often face doubt and ridicule. Others may blame the abuse on the man’s “weakness” or alleged homosexuality.Victim-blamingis especially likely when a man accuses a woman of sexual abuse.
Due to stigma, male survivors can be reluctant to label their experiences as rape or abuse. Some may not mention the event at all. However, a reluctance to disclose can prevent men from getting treatment. Without professional help, some men resort to substance abuse orself-harmto cope with trauma.
SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE IN THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY
The rates of sexual assault forhomosexualandbisexualindividuals are comparable or higher than the rates forheterosexualpeople. Hate crimes account for many sexual assaults againstLGBTQ+people.
Among cisgender women, the lifetime prevalence rates for rape are:
46% for bisexual women.
13% for lesbian women.
17% for heterosexual women.
Rape statistics among cisgender men are limited. The lifetime prevalence rates for sexual assaults other than rape are:
47% for bisexual men.
40% for gay men.
21% of heterosexual men.
Around 64% oftransgenderpeople will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. This statistic includes transgender people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Transgender youth are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. In a 2011 survey, 12% of trans youth said peers or educational staff had sexually assaulted them in a school setting.
Sexual crimes in the LGBTQ+ community are often not reported. Survivors may fear revealing their gender identity or sexual orientation to others. They may not trust the legal system to protect them. Survivors could also fear inciting further violence.
Like other survivors, LGBTQ+ people often encounter stigma after they report sexual violence.Discriminationin the health care system may prevent survivors from getting care. Friends and family may believe stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people and blame the victim. In cases of domestic violence, members of the local LGBTQ+ community may refuse to believe the survivor or hold the offender accountable.
LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault canget help from a therapist. Mental health professionals cannot disclose one’s personal information to others. Therapy is a confidential place where one can find support without judgment.
RACE/ETHNICITY AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
In the U.S., certain races andethnicitiesare more likely to experience sexual assault. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), the lifetime prevalence rates for rape are:
9.5% of Asian or Pacific Islander women
15.0% of Hispanic women
19.9% of white women
20.7% of black women
28.9% of American Indian or Alaskan Native women
31.8% for multiracial women
The report in question did not include data on male survivors.
Racismcan place racial/ethnic minorities at higher risk of sexual assault. Many people of color are fetishized as “exotic,” hypersexual beings. As such, survivors are more likely to be labeled “willing” participants. Sexual assaults on white people are often punished more harshly than assaults on people of color.
As such, people of color are much less likely to report their sexual assaults. Some people may not trust the legal system to treat them fairly. Others may fear “betraying” their community by disclosing personal information. In some cases, cultural values create extra stigma for people who report. These factors can also prevent survivors from seeking mental health treatment.
CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE
The sexual abuse ofchildrencan take many forms. It may involve a stranger or someone as close as a parent. A child doesn’t need to be touched to be sexually abused.Voyeuristic actions, such as watching a child undress or shower, count as sexual abuse. Adults who expose their genitalia to children are also committing abuse.
An adult who sexually abuses children may, in some cases, have asexual attraction to children. Yet sexual attraction is not necessary to commit abuse. Often, a perpetrator abuses a child to gain power over them.
Childhood sexual abuse is common. In the United States:
44% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18.
Children are most vulnerable to childhood sexual assault between 7 and 13 years old.
10% of American children are abused before the age of 18.
Among children who are sexually abused, 20% experience sexual abuse before age 8.
Despite being common, children who experience abuse do not always report it right away. This may be partly due to power the offender has over the child.
Up to 93% of children who have been sexually abused know their attackers well. An offender will often threaten or manipulate the child to prevent them from disclosing the abuse.
Over a third of abusers are part of the child’s family.
73% of child targets do not disclose the abuse for a year or more.
45% of child targets do not disclose abuse until at least five years have passed.
Although sexual abuse in children can be difficult to recognize, detection is possible. If a child shows the following warning signs, there may be cause for concern:
Sexual behaviors or knowledge that are not age-appropriate
The above signs are not necessarily proof a child is being sexually abused. Children may show these behaviors due to another issue. However, one does not need proof to report child abuse. Finding proof is the job ofChild Protective Services. To report abuse, one only needs “reasonable suspicion” that abuse is taking place.
Reporting sexual abuse may prevent a child from having mental health concerns in adulthood. People who experienced sexual abuse as children are at greater risk of substance abuse or eating and food issues. They are also more likely to be sexually abused as adults.
If you think a child is being abused, you can call your state’s Child Protective Services to investigate. You can also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Sexual harassment often falls under the umbrella of sexual assault. While the definitions of both sexual assault and sexual harassment include non-consensual sexual contact, there are some distinct differences.
The term “sexual harassment” is often used in a legal context. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment includes:
Unwanted sexual advances or contact
Harassing a person on the basis of their sex
Making offensive comments or jokes about a particular sex
Pressure to go on a date or perform sexual favors
Sexual harassment can occur anywhere, but many of the laws that protect people who may experience sexual harassment refer to harassment in the workplace. The broader definition of sexual harassment can include cat-calling, making sexual gestures or comments toward a person, staring, referring to someone using demeaning language such as “babe” or “hunk,” and giving unwanted or personal gifts.
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES RESULTING FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT
After sexual assault, survivors may feel their bodies are not really their own. Survivors often report feelings such asshame, terror, andguilt. Many blame themselves for the assault.
Due to the trauma and negative emotions linked to sexual abuse, survivors may be at risk for mental health conditions. Survivors of sexual abuse may develop:
Depression: The loss of bodily autonomy is often difficult to cope with. It can create feelings of hopelessness or despair. It may also reduce one’s sense of self-worth. Depressive feelings may be mild and fleeting, or they can be intense and long-lasting.
Anxiety: The loss of bodily autonomy can also cause severe anxiety. Survivors may fear the attack could happen again. Some may experience panic attacks. Others may develop agoraphobia and become afraid to leave their homes. In some cases, a survivor may develop a chronic fear of the type of person who harmed them. Someone who was raped by a tall, fair-haired man with blue eyes may instinctively dislike, mistrust, or fear all men who match that description.
Posttraumatic stress (PTSD): Someone who survived sexual assault may experience intense memories of the abuse. In some cases, flashbacks may be so disruptive they cause a survivor to lose track of surroundings. A person may also develop a related condition called complex posttraumatic stress (C-PTSD). C-PTSD yields a chronic fear of abandonment in addition to symptoms of traditional PTSD. Some people with C-PTSD also experience personality disruptions.
Personality disruptions: Sexual abuse can sometimes result in personality disruptions such as borderline personality. The behavior linked with personality disruptions could actually be an adaption to abuse. For instance, a characteristic of borderline personality is a fear of abandonment. That fear might not be adaptive in adulthood. Yet avoiding abandonment might have protected someone from sexual abuse as a child.
Attachment issues: Survivors may find it challenging to form healthy attachments with others. This is especially true among children who have been abused. Adults who were abused as children may have insecure attachment patterns. They could struggle with intimacy or be too eager to form close attachments.
Addiction: Research suggests abuse survivors are 26 times more likely to use drugs. Drugs and alcohol can help numb the pain of abuse. Yet substance abuse often leads to the development of different concerns.
Sexual abuse does not only leave psychological scars. It can also have long-lasting health consequences.
A person who is assaulted may sustain bruises and cuts. They could also have more severe injuries such as knife wounds, broken bones, and damaged genitals. Others may developchronic painwithout an obvious physical cause.
Some survivors experience sexual dysfunction andfertility issues. Others may develop sexually transmitted infections. Contrary to myth, it is possible for a sexual assault to result in pregnancy. In cases where a child becomes pregnant, giving birth may be physically dangerous.
COUNSELING AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE
Many survivors develop mental health conditions after sexual assault. Having a mental health concern does not make you “weak” or “broken.” People cope with trauma in different ways.
With the anticipation, similar to days before birth of a first child, another form of publication will soon be released. From our smaller presence in earlier days of the 5 yr Child Abuse Royal Commission (CARC), the need to ‘join the dots’ began to call out. Hopefully, with the increased-global visitors of our RCbbc Blog, we’re now able to Share another media: Newsletters! eNews are becoming a greater extension of the 247 work-cycle, allowing wider varieties of audio, visual, text & combinations of media to be exchanged. A business plan is still being developed, yet many feel that these swapping of ideas is helpful.