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What sexual abuse survivors hope to achieve by travelling to Rome.

Ballarat woman Clare Linane, whose husband Peter Blenkiron, brother and cousin were all victims of sexual abuse by Brother Edward Dowlan in 1974, has penned a Facebook post. It encapsulates the motivations of the survivors who travelled to Rome to watch George Pell testify this morning.

“They’re a group of admirable, brave and yet fundamentally damaged men, most of whom have PTSD,” she writes of the 12-plus survivors she knows personally. “They have survived this far in spite of being raped, assaulted and damaged for life as children.”

Linane is touched by the amount of money raised by the general public, spurred on by the support of public figures like Tim Minchin. “The generosity of those who contributed meant there will be funds left to establish a support mechanism to help survivors in Ballarat,” she wrote.

While some members of the media were offended by the tone and language of Minchin’s charity single, Come Home, Linane wants people to understand that it’s perceived offensiveness is outweighed by its ability to communicate the feelings of survivors.

“This is the language of anger,” she posted. “I owe George Pell no reverence beyond that which he has earned through his words and deeds.”

Linane’s post is a response to a piece by columnist Miranda Devine, who believes the Cardinal has been unfairly targeted by the media and public.

She explains that supporting or defending Pell can be seen as denying or dismissing survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. “If he’s telling the truth, then David Ridsdale is lying when he says Pell said ‘I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet’.

And Tim Green is lying when he says he told Father Pell in 1974 that Edward Dowlan was touching little boys, and was told: ‘Don’t be ridiculous’. And BWE is lying when he says he heard Pell say: ‘I think Gerry has been rooting young boys again’ in 1983.”

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<> at Synod Hall on October 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.
“I owe George Pell no reverence beyond that which he has earned through his words and deeds.” (Image: Getty)

You can read Clare’s words in full here, but it ends with a list of the outcomes victims are hoping to leverage from the church.

These are:

• A national redress scheme to assist survivors with day to day living costs such as medical bills, given many can no longer earn a living due to their PTSD

• A national education program within schools to ensure that children learn about personal boundaries and learn that no adult, regardless of their role, has the right to invade their personal space, much less inflict sexual abuse.

• A world-class healing centre for survivors experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Ballarat

• A peer support program for men in the Ballarat and other severely affected regions, to provide coping strategies which will in turn reduce our suicide rate

• An immediate strategy to remove all paedophiles from the Catholic Church entirely, in all countries, and assist police with criminal investigations in all countries.

“It is not about them as individuals, and is not about Pell,” she concludes. “It is about a commitment to action by the Church.”

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