Survivors of child sex abuse share their haunting and heartbreaking stories.

Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of child sex abuse and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.

For the first time, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shared the stories of survivors, in an attempt to increase community awareness and understanding of abuse.

Nine audio accounts have been published, featuring the experiences of anonymous survivors who were abused in institutions between the 1950s and the early 2000s. These institutions include schools, children’s homes, and Aboriginal missions.

While the stories are true, names have been changed, and actors have been used to recount the events.

It’s a powerful move in what will hopefully be a pivotal moment for acknowledging child sex abuse in Australia. According to the Commission CEO Philip Reed, “bearing witness to the experiences of survivors in private sessions has been a defining feature of this Royal Commission,” and doing so allows us all to consider what “could be done to help prevent this occurring in the future.”

Reed believes, “By publishing these audio stories the Royal Commission is giving all Australians an opportunity to better understand these events and play a part in keeping children safe.”

One of the recordings describes the experiences of ‘Natalie,’ who was 11 years old when a Catholic priest at her primary school asked her to take off her uniform and change into a see-through white shirt. She wanted to be a model, and the priest offered to take photos of her.

“He asked me to pose like Elle McPherson,” she said. “I knew he was taking photos of my private parts. I was begging to go home.”


Even when he touched her, Natalie didn’t tell anyone, because she thought no one would believe her.

“I just saw the world in a completely different way after what he did to me. I felt this sense that my only value was sexual,” she said.

“I left home at 15 and by 17 I was a prostitute. I wish somebody had looked at why I was going off the rails.”

Scott was 12 when he met Harold Fletcher at a state-run hostel in Western Australia. He describes the way Mr. Fletcher would enter his room at night and tap him on the foot.

“That meant you had to go to his room and that’s where he’d rape you,” he said.

Scott was abused for two years before Mr. Fletcher moved on to the younger boys. “Once you were a bit older, you didn’t get the tap on the foot anymore,” he said.

Each of the nine stories is horrific and confronting. They’re disturbing – describing the ordeals of innocent children, one as young as eight, who were manipulated by those around them, often by people they thought they could trust.

The Royal Commission has heard more than 5,500 accounts from victims.

Philip Reed said, “the stories released this week are just a small sample of the many circumstances and institutions recounted to the Royal Commission in private sessions.”

Hopefully by sharing their stories, these individuals will encourage other survivors to do the same.

All nine accounts can be heard here.