Church sexual abuse victims’ families are also suffering

The Courier
May 24, 2015

THE stories coming out of the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sexual Abuse are horrific.

They are tragic stories of lost childhoods and damaged adulthoods.

But what tends to be forgotten are the secondary victims – the partners, the children, the parents ... family members of those who were abused.

Today, Clare Linane bravely – and very honestly – tells what it’s like to be the wife of not only a survivor but a man who has made it his life mission to help other victims.

Clare is the wife of Peter Blenkiron, who has been leading the charge to not only stop the Ballarat victim suicides but to ensure the horrors of the past are never repeated.

She tells us of eight years of hell, during which the stress of dealing with her husband’s post-traumatic stress disorder nearly all became too much.

“It was like having eight years walking around next to someone neck high in mud. I was trying to keep him moving, keep him living but trying not to drown in the mud myself,” she said.

She also talks about her anger at the Catholic Church hierarchy

for what she believes is further victimisation of people during civil action proceedings and for being insincere in its apologies, particularly Cardinal George Pell.

She also says people who claim survivors are just after money are close-minded.

As she points out, that defence also allows people to conveniently forget the offence.

And she talks about her pride – and at times frustration – in her husband’s relentless pursuit of justice.

“Sometimes I just want it to stop. I want him to use that energy on our home and family. But that would be selfish. He is a good man fighting for a good cause.”

Ballarat victims form one of – if not the strongest – advocacy groups in Australia. 

Despite all their struggles, they are fighting hard for others and will continue to do so.

But we must also remember the other people in their lives who bear the brunt of both their struggles and their fight.

They should be commended, too.


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