When the media reports on evidence from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse come on the radio or television I have to turn it off. The stories of abuse from the victims are utterly harrowing. They make my stomach churn and I just can’t listen to them anymore.
I know they are stories which have to be told to help the victims of this terrible abuse, to reach a point where wrongs are somehow righted and to try to prevent this institutional abuse ever happening again. My greatest respect and admiration goes to the victims who have found the courage to speak out against this awful evil and to those who are working with them as either employees of the Royal Commission or the media reporting on it.
As at the 1st of May 2015, the Royal Commission had handled 21,856 telephone calls, received 10,882 letters and emails, held 3,340 private sessions and made 570 referrals to authorities including police. The Commission’s work is far from done and so we must prepare ourselves to hear more harrowing stories of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy like those which have emerged from the recent hearings in Ballarat.
When the Royal Commission was set up there was a realisation that the impact of evidence being aired would be great, not only for the traumatised survivors of child sexual abuse, but also for people like you and I who may be far removed from the hearings yet connected through the media reports we do hear.
The Commission’s media reporting guidelines state “for some victims, telling their stories can be re-traumatising. In addition, members of the public may also be adversely affected by media reports on the work of the Royal Commission.
“For these reasons, the Royal Commission encourages sensitive, ethical reporting of the issues and requests that, wherever possible, the contact details of support services are included in media reports such as Lifeline”.
It’s ok to feel upset and distressed by the evidence being presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. And there is help available if you need it.
Perhaps you’re feeling like me, unable to listen to the stories of child sexual abuse at the Royal Commission? Rest assured there is someone to talk to.