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.”