Royal Commission Coverage an Emotional Trigger for Sexual Abuse Survivors

By Kate Hill
ABC South East SA
June 4, 2015

As horrendous cases of child sexual abuse in institutions are continuing to make headlines across the nation's media, the Victims of Crime Support Service says the coverage can prompt 'emotional triggers' and traumatic memories in people.

Seek help: the Victim Support Service is encouraging victims of childhood sexual abuse to come forward and seek help. (Kate Hill - ABC Local )

This week, Diane Newton, a Victim Support Services (VSS) counsellor with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, is now encouraging such individuals to come forward and contact the service.

VSS held forums this week in Kingston and Naracoorte to give individuals and service providers information on contacting the commission and what local support services were available for survivors of child sexual abuse.

As more sexual abuse stories emerged from the commission's hearing this week in Ballarat, Ms Newton said the spotlight had been thrown onto a dark corner of human society.

"The public are now becoming more aware of this major issue in our society," she said.

"This is a huge opportunity for the Australian public to be able to come forward, have support, have a voice and say 'we need to change things'."

South-east Victim Support Coordinator, Virginia Hill said a number of south-east residents had come forward to contact the commission about their experiences.

"Sometimes people will sit on this particular issue for decades," she said.

"So the fact the Royal Commission has been set up to acknowledge the abuse that has taken place is often very beneficial to them in knowing that they will be acknowledged if they do decide to come forward."

Ms Hill said her door was always open to those who wanted to seek counselling or merely have a chat.

"It's a free and confidential service and we are very happy to assist people."

Kim Farmer, a solicitor with Knowmore community legal service, said there had been some surprising facts to emerge from the commission so far.

"The Royal Commission has found it takes on average 22 years for a man to disclose child sexual abuse," she said.

"Sometimes it's not something they've been sitting on and been quiet about - it hasn't actually been triggered."

The free national service had been specifically set up to assist people, survivors and families who wanted to engage with the Royal Commission, she said.

Ms Newton saw the commission as 'a revolution in the Australian community'.

She encouraged anyone to come forward and contact the Victim Support Service.

"Often at Victim Support Services, we will get phone calls from people to say 'I need to speak with someone, I know someone who was sexually abused as a child or I was and I haven't been able to tell anyone'.

"Many people knew child sexual abuse was happening through institutions, but people didn't speak about it - it was a secret. For perpetrators, the grooming was to keep the secret.

"The secret is now broken."








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