Silent Victims Told to Come Forward

By Andrew Thomson
The Standard [Australia]
September 13, 2006

Helen Watson claimed her son, Peter, was a hidden victim of former Penshurst Catholic priest Paul Ryan.

This year she received a letter of apology from Bishop Peter Connors of the Ballarat diocese.

Peter Watson committed suicide in 1999.

Ms Watson said she believed her son was one of many unknown victims of sexual abuse by the clergy.

She said she was inspired by one of Ryan's victims, Deon Cameron, who told his story to The Standard last week.

Ms Watson met the Cameron family for the first time last Friday at the Warrnambool court hearing.

"It was overwhelming. I take my hat off to the whole family," Ms Watson said.

"It was a hugely emotional experience.

"I realise now that victims are not alone.

"Here is a young lad who took a huge risk living in a small country community."

Ms Watson said she had drawn a lot of strength from the Cameron family.

"I'm in awe of how they handled it. Hopefully other people can come forward," she said.

"In means there is some gratification in Peter's life, that people don't get away scott free." Ms Watson said she had undergone counselling and was now ready to move on.

"I benefited from that but the past is now the past... I can can leave all that behind me," she said.

"But if coming forward and talking helps one person that's enough.

"To help save one life, to help others with their guilt or let them know they were not responsible, people need to know that," she said.

Anyone in need of for help and support or considering harming themself can phone Lifeline 24 hours a day on 131 114. Young people can call the Kids' Help Line 1800 551 800.


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