National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

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"News of the Week"  

September, 2018 - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

South Carolina


Guest column: Take action to prevent child sexual abuse


The long-awaited grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania was recently released and detailed sexual abuse by over 300 Priests in Pennsylvania. Like many, I was in shock, but this really hit home for me because I grew up in a Catholic Church just outside of Pittsburgh, in fact, I attended Catholic elementary school.

When I first read the details of the report, I experienced a wide range of emotions from anger and disgust at the church for the gross negligence and criminal behavior, to sadness for the victims, many of whom are adults now and whose lives were shattered by what happened to them; and finally (and honestly) relief that I was not one of their victims.

What we all need to take away from this report is that the problem of child sexual abuse doesn't just happen in Pennsylvania. Child sexual abuse is a horrific crime that no one wants to think about happening to their child. But it happens in every state across the country and crosses all socioeconomic boundaries. I have lived and worked in Aiken for 20 years and, yes, child sexual abuse happens all too often in our community too. In 2017, Aiken County ranked eighth in the state for the highest number of founded cases of sexual abuse ( , data and resources, CPSI Maltreatment Types Founded for SFY-2017).

As a community, I believe we can be empowered and take action. In 2005, I became a facilitator for Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program. It focuses on what we can do as adults to create an environment that prevents child sexual abuse. As a parent, I felt more empowered to take active steps to better protect my children. It changed the way I parented. Stewards of Children focuses on the ‘5 Steps to Protecting Children from Child Sexual Abuse':

1. Know the facts – The reality is that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before age 18. Of those over 90 percent of them know their abuser. Many times, the abuse is not sexual intercourse, but rather sexual touching of children's genitals, children forced to touch an adult's genitals, or children introduced to pornographic materials or language.

Most abusers are charismatic, personable and know no socioeconomic boundaries. Often times, abusers use psychological methods to coerce children. For instance, they bribe and entice with individual “special” attention and “secret” friendship games or by offering tantalizing privileges, treats or gifts. They also may manipulate children into being a “good” boy or girl; playing upon kids' guilt and natural desire to please and obey adults or “do as you're told.” Abusers also may trick children with comments like, “Everyone plays this game; I'll teach you the rules.” (

2. Minimize Opportunity – Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations. We all need to begin to insist that daycares, private babysitters, camps, churches or anyone who serves children, have a code of conduct or child safety policies and procedures detailing how they protect children. This includes how one-on-one situations, will be avoided or minimized, with both staff and among other kids.

3. Talk About It – Have open conversations with children about their bodies, sex and boundaries. Most research states that children who know their correct anatomical body parts for their "private parts" are less likely to be targeted by predators. Teaching boundaries related to touch is also a key component. For example, it is OK to say no to an unwanted hug or touch or it is not OK to be overly affectionate with strangers.

4. Recognize the Signs – The signs of abuse aren't always obvious. They are there, but you have to know what to look for. There are too many to list here but some common signs include: a child displaying advanced types of sexual actions or language in their play, asking adult-like questions using slang or vulgar sexual terms, sores or infections around their private parts, nightmares, bedwetting, depression or fear of being left alone or left with a particular person.

5. React Responsibly – How you react matters. Most children fear “upsetting” parents; so as shocked as you may be, remain calm, believe your child and give them unconditional support. The more supportive you are the more resilient your child will be on their road to recovery.

The Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County has more details for each of these steps along with practical examples and other resources online at We will also be offering Stewards of Children Training this fall. The training will be free and open to the public. Please check the website or Child Advocacy Center Facebook page for dates and times.

The Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County's mission is to provide services which promote healing to children who have experienced abuse and their families through intervention, treatment and prevention.

Their Purpose is to:

• Minimize trauma to child victims of suspected child abuse or witness to violence

• Coordinate a collaborative response to cases of child abuse

• Help children heal from their trauma

• Work to increase community awareness of and how to prevent child abuse in our community

Our ultimate goal is to help children find hope and healing. In 2017, we conducted 495 forensic interviews, 95 medical evaluations and 463 therapy sessions with children who had been abused.

Susan Meehan is the executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.


San Francisco

Silicon Valley is under pressure again, this time over online pedophilia

by Isobel Asher Hamilton

Silicon Valley is having a rough week.

After salvos from President Trump over purported bias in Google's search results, and calls from powerful broadcasters for more regulation, tech firms are now under pressure from UK authorities to tackle online child sexual abuse.

On Monday, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) said it received more than 80,000 industry referrals for child sex abuse images in 2017. That's a sevenfold increase over five years.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid used the numbers as the jumping off point for an editorial in The Sun, where he said he was making it his mission to crack down on child sexual abusers online. He is making a speech later today in which he is expected to announce new funding for law enforcement.

While it did not name names, the NCA stated that it had seen an increase of, "hidden or encrypted online opportunities for higher risk offending."

"We are seeing an increase in the number of sophisticated offenders using the dark web to groom and harm children on the mainstream internet," said NCA Director Rob Jones.

He said that investigators are having to deal with offenders who are committing preventable crimes such as sharing illegal images already known to law enforcement, and he suggested that tech companies could have the answer.

He said: "The technology exists for industry to design out these offences, to stop these images being shared. Whilst some online platforms have taken important steps to improve safety, we are asking them to take it to the next step; to innovate, to use their brightest minds, and to invest in preventing these online offences from happening in the first place."

At least some of the commentary seems to be directed at Google. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt accused the search giant last week of not cooperating with intelligence agencies in removing child abuse content.

He wrote: "Seems extraordinary that Google is considering censoring its content to get into China but won't cooperate with UK, US and other 5 eyes countries in removing child abuse content."

Google announced on Monday the release of a new free artificial intelligence tool to help charities and industry partners track down child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

"By using deep neural networks for image processing, we can now assist reviewers sorting through many images by prioritizing the most likely CSAM content for review," the company said.



When It Comes To Child Sexual Exploitation, We Cannot Ignore The Darknet

by Nikita Malik

Yesterday Sajid Javid, the United Kingdom's Home Secretary, demanded that technology companies take child sexual exploitation more seriously. He warned of "taking action" against those that refused to do so.

Impressed by the steps that Facebook, Microsoft, and Google had taken on terrorism, the Home Secretary asked them to use the same techniques to tackle child sexual exploitation.

One of the suggestions was for technology companies to work together to come up with tools to detect online child grooming, which can then be offered for free to other companies. If this sounds familiar, that's because it's the same as The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIF CT).

But in actual fact, the techniques used by tech companies to find image patterns to feed into technology to remove terrorist material – known as "hashing" - was first done in the realm of ending child sexual exploitation.

And while the Home Secretary's comments are welcome – and the creation of an independent regulator or fines are sure to incentivize platforms to review more content using human intelligence -  the blame cannot be put squarely on technology companies alone.

I have been a vocal critic of some tech techniques of monitoring terrorist content, but I cannot see how a successful policy will operate without one critical component: more resources in policing the Darknet, where the majority of child sexual exploitation material lies largely unregulated, and with no responsibility on the part of any company.

In fact, one could go so far as to argue that as social media companies become more savvy in regulating their platforms, we will see more of this material appear on the Darknet.

The Darknet – "the criminal underbelly of the internet" - is hard to access, largely unregulated and acts as a repository of "hidden" sites accessible through uniquely downloadable software programs that support encryption.

Users of the platform use sites as a place to upload, share, and view tens of thousands of posts involving the sexual abuse of children, all operating under the impression that their use of The Onion Router (TOR) makes their online activity untraceable.

Take the case of Playpen, a members-only Darknet website that hosted material relating to the sexual exploitation of children. The site had around 160,000 members worldwide, making it, at the time, the largest child pornography website that the FBI had ever come across.

The subsequent investigation into the identities of the site's users, led by the FBI and the United States Department of Justice, was one of the largest and most challenging in the fight against online child exploitation.

To start, the Darknet is not impenetrable. The first lead in the Playpen investigation, for example, came in December 2014 when a "foreign entity" shared the true IP address of the Playpen server, because of two errors made by the designer of the website.

Using what are described in court documents as "standard investigation measures," the FBI located the site on four hard drives on a server in North Carolina. Seizing a copy, they then arrested the man deemed to be its owner in Naples, Florida: Steven Chase, who was then sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The seized copy of the site was then placed onto a government-owned server in the Eastern District of Virginia, and a warrant was obtained to deploy a Network Investigative Technique (NIT) to help reveal the true identities of the site's users.

Playpen was then hosted on the government-owned server for 13 days, from 20 February to 4 March 2015. During this time, the NIT was implemented thousands of times, gathering crucial information which was compiled into "lead packages" and sent to relevant offices or authorities inside the United States and around the world.

Though it was not long after the shutdown of Playpen that another website grew to become the largest child pornography website on the TOR network, the investigation was a success in that it produced at least 870 arrests worldwide (368 of which were in Europe) and led to the identification or rescue of at least 259 sexually abused children outside of the United States.

The Darknet is an important place for policing, and its role in facilitating criminal activity – including child sexual exploitation – cannot be ignored. It is troubling that it is not mentioned in the Home Secretary's remarks.

In the United Kingdom, the National Crime Agency and GCHQ set up a specialist unit to look at the Darknet and child abuse back in 2014. But to end child sexual exploitation online, it remains clear that more resources must be dedicated to policing and coordinating intelligence approaches on the Darknet.


New York Times

5 States Are Investigating Potential Cover-Ups of Sex Abuse in Catholic Dioceses

by Sharon Otterman

Newly emboldened attorneys general across the United States have begun to take an aggressive stance toward investigating sex abuse by Catholic clergy, examining whether church officials covered up malfeasance, issuing subpoenas for documents and convening special task forces.

On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a similar investigation.

The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that their bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.

In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska have also announced that they intend to investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.

The new approach by the authorities increases the pressure on Pope Francis, who is weathering a crisis related to sexual abuse by clergy globally, from the United States to Honduras to Chile to Australia.

A former Vatican diplomat to the United States, Carlo Maria Viganò, issued an 11-page letter in August calling on Pope Francis to resign for failing to sanction Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick for his abuses against adult seminarians. Cardinal McCarrick was one of America's most prominent cardinals before he resigned from the College of Cardinals in July over abuse allegations.

Attorneys general said in statements Thursday that they were inspired to take action by the scathing Pennsylvania report, which led to several abuse convictions, and were seeking to bring similar transparency and justice to constituents in their states.

“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover-ups in the dioceses,” the attorney general of New York, Barbara Underwood, said in a statement. “Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well — and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve.”

Ms. Underwood also said her office's criminal division wanted to work with local district attorneys to prosecute any individuals who have committed criminal offenses that fall within the applicable statutes of limitations. In New York State, the attorney general's office cannot convene a grand jury, so it must work in concert with local district attorneys.

New Jersey's attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, announced Thursday that he had appointed Robert D. Laurino, the former acting prosecutor of Essex County, to lead a task force that will investigate clergy sex abuse and any effort to cover up claims of assault. The task force, which will have subpoena power through a grand jury in order to compel testimony and demand the production of documents.

“I was deeply troubled to read the allegations contained in last month's Pennsylvania grand jury report,” Mr. Grewal said in a statement. “We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here. If it did, we will take action against those responsible.”

Both states have set up dedicated hotlines for victims and witnesses to report information related to allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

Church officials are signaling that they will comply with subpoenas and requests for documents. In New York, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said that all of the dioceses in the state would cooperate with the subpoenas.

“It is not a surprise to us that the attorney general would look to begin a civil investigation, and she will find the Archdiocese of New York, and the other seven dioceses in the state, ready and eager to work together with her in the investigation,” he said.

Ms. Underwood's action represents the first statewide investigation of sexual abuse and potential cover-up by the Catholic Church in New York. Several district attorney's offices in the state have investigated abuses within single dioceses, but those investigations took place more than a decade ago.

The subpoenas were issued on Thursday by the Charities Division of the attorney general's office, which has the authority to oversee nonprofits, including religious institutions. They cover all documents related to sexual abuse and the church's response to that abuse over decades, including information from secret or confidential church archives, a person close to the investigation said, requesting anonymity because the information is related to a continuing investigation.

Because of New York State's highly restrictive statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes, many of the potential abuses that may be uncovered will not be able to be prosecuted. Under current law in New York, victims only have until age 23 to file civil cases or seek criminal charges for most types of child sexual abuse. Some of the most serious child sex crimes, such as rape, have no time limit on the bringing of criminal charges, but only for conduct that occurred in 2001 or later.

A bill that would amend the statute of limitations to allow more victims to seek justice has failed to pass the state Legislature for years.

On Thursday, Ms. Underwood urged the Legislature to pass the bill, known as Child Victims Act, which would allow all victims to file civil suits until age 50 and seek criminal charges until age 28.

But she also urged any victim of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, or anyone who knows about abuse, to participate in its investigation, “even if they believe that their information may be outside the statute of limitations for a court case.”

“All victim information will be helpful to understanding and reforming the institutional approach of the church, regardless of whether an individual case can be prosecuted,” she said. Victims and anyone with information about abuse can call the hotline at 800-771-7755 or file a complaint online at In New Jersey, the number to report allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy is (855) 363-6548.

Abuse victims and their advocates have accused New York's bishops for years of covering up the extent of clergy abuse, contending that the church has taken advantage of the state's restrictive statute of limitations.

In the Archdiocese of New York, the number of abusive priests who have been named publicly is 83, according to a database kept by, a victims' advocacy group. In contrast, the Archdiocese of Boston, which has fewer Catholics and priests but was the target of an investigation by the state's attorney general in 2003, has reported 261 priests accused of abuse.

Terence McKiernan, president of, said in a statement on Thursday, “Little is known about clergy abuse of children in New York, because of the state's antiquated and predator-friendly statute of limitations, and because the church has kept the evidence secret all these years.”

“Finally we will learn the truth in New York,” he added.


Google releases free AI tool to stamp out child sexual abuse material

by Lisa Vaas

Since 2008, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has made available a list of hash values for known child sexual abuse images. Provided by ISPs, these hash values (which are like a digital fingerprint) enable companies to check large volumes of files for matches without those companies themselves having to keep copies of offending images or to actually pry open people's private messages.

More recently, in 2015, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) announced that it would share hashes of such vile imagery with the online industry in a bid to speed up its identification and removal, working with web giants Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo to remove child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from the web.

It's been worthy work, but it's had one problem: you can only get a hash of an image after you've identified it. That means that a lot of human analysts have to analyze a lot of content – onerous work for reviewers, and also an approach that doesn't scale well when it comes to keeping up with the scourge.

On Monday, Google announced that it's releasing a free artificial intelligence (AI) tool to address that problem: technology that can identify, and report, online CSAM at scale, easing the need for human analysts to do all the work of catching new material that hasn't yet been hashed.

Google Engineering Lead Nikola Todorovic and Product Manager Abhi Chaudhuri said in the post that the AI “significantly advances” Google's existing technologies to “dramatically improve how service providers, NGOs, and other technology companies review violative content at scale.”

Google says that the use of deep neural networks for image processing will assist reviewers who've been sorting through images, by prioritizing the most likely CSAM content for review.

The classifier adds on to the historical approaches of detecting such content – matching hashes of known CSAM – by also targeting content that hasn't yet been confirmed as CSAM.

The faster the identification, the faster children can be rescued, Google said:

Quick identification of new images means that children who are being sexually abused today are much more likely to be identified and protected from further abuse.

Google is making the tool available for free to NGOs and its industry partners via its Content Safety API: “a toolkit to increase the capacity to review content in a way that requires fewer people to be exposed to it.”

Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the IWF:

We, and in particular our expert analysts, are excited about the development of an artificial intelligence tool which could help our human experts review material to an even greater scale and keep up with offenders, by targeting imagery that hasn't previously been marked as illegal material. By sharing this new technology, the identification of images could be speeded up, which in turn could make the internet a safer place for both survivors and users.

How much speed is speeded up? Google says that it's seen the system help a reviewer find and take action on 700% more CSAM content than can be reviewed and reported without the aid of AI.

Google said that those interested in using the Content Safety API should reach out to the company by using this API request form.

This won't be enough to stop the spread of what Google called this “abhorrent” content, but the fight will go on, the company said:

Identifying and fighting the spread of CSAM is an ongoing challenge, and governments, law enforcement, NGOs and industry all have a critically important role in protecting children from this horrific crime.

While technology alone is not a panacea for this societal challenge, this work marks a big step forward in helping more organizations do this challenging work at scale. We will continue to invest in technology and organizations to help fight the perpetrators of CSAM and to keep our platforms and our users safe from this type of abhorrent content. We look forward to working alongside even more partners in the industry to help them do the same.

Fred Langford, deputy CEO of the IWF, told the Verge that the organization – one of the largest organizations dedicated to stopping the spread of CSAM online – first plans to test Google's new AI tool thoroughly.

As it is, there's been a lot of hype about AI, he said, noting the “fantastical claims” made about such technologies.

While tools like Google's are building towards fully automated systems that can identify previously unseen material without human interaction, such a prospect is “a bit like the Holy Grail in our arena,” Langford said.

The human moderators aren't going away, in other words. At least, not yet. The IWF will keep running its tip lines and employing teams of humans to identify abuse imagery; will keep investigating sites to find where CSAM is shared; and will keep working with law enforcement to shut them down.


Fortune Magazine

Google's New AI Tool to Fight Child Sexual Abuse Will Help Reviewers Scan 700% More Material


Google is releasing a new artificial intelligence tool for the fight against child sexual abuse.

The new tool will be available for free and will help companies and organizations that monitor child sexual abuse material review 700% more material than they are now. At present, tools like Microsoft's PhotoDNA can help flag material on internet platforms, but only if it has already been marked as abusive. Finding new offenders requires human moderators to sort through images by hand, which is taxing both emotionally and in terms of efficiency.

Google's tool will still require human review for confirmation, but will present the reviewer with the material most likely to be abusive, rather than requiring him or her to sort through each item. Fred Langford, deputy CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is one of the largest organizations dedicated to stopping the spread of child sexual abuse material online, told The Verge that the organization's monitors would be trying out the tool, but cautioned against trusting all the “fantastical claims made about AI,” saying the tool should only be trusted with the most “clear cut” cases.

According to the Committee for Children, child sexual abuse and assault affects one in four girls and one in 20 boys in the U.S., and the rate of abuse has plateaued after a decline in the 1990s. The British National Crime Agency recently reported that referrals of child sexual abuse material were 700% higher in 2017 than in 2012. That doesn't necessarily mean child sexual abuse is on the rise, and could in fact mean that the reporting of abusive images is becoming more efficient. Still, the U.K. government is calling on tech platforms to “do more” to prevent child sex abuse.


North Carolina


Act, don't react: We can prevent child sexual abuse


The news from the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that more than 300 priests sexually abused children has been horrifying. It follows similar scandals in USA Gymnastics, at Penn State, and countless stories about cover ups in schools and other institutions.

Powerful institutions have valued and protected their reputations more than children in each of these scandals.

In addition to the immediate physical harm, victims suffer toxic stress that results in long-term physical and mental health problems as well as a host of social problems that affect us all.

It is a problem, however, that is preventable.

While many are focused on why and how it happened, and punishment for the perpetrators, at Prevent Child Abuse NC, we focus on what can be done to make our state and communities safer so that children can thrive. The most powerful thing we can do is to educate adults about the ways we can support and build safe, healthy environments for our children.

We can do this in our communities, our schools and youth-serving organizations, and in our homes. We must start by not being afraid to have these conversations and not keeping child sexual abuse in the dark, wrapped in secrets because we are unwilling to ask hard questions.

Communities can support healthy sexuality and community awareness by:

Contacting your local health department, child advocacy center, or Prevent Child Abuse NC to learn more about how to recognize the signs of sexual abuse, how to find resources and support for parents as they learn the best way to teach their kids about healthy sexuality, and how to determine if the institutions and organizations where their children learn and play are doing all they can to help children thrive and keep them safe,

Encouraging your local libraries to develop and promote a special collection on healthy sexual development and parenting, and

Working with the media and local groups to set and enforce standards for public advertising that avoids being sexually exploitive of children.

Schools and other organizations where children learn and play can support safe, healthy, respectful environments. You can ask your schools if they have developed and enforced:

policies that set clear limits on who can access the property,

rules about pick up and drop off,

rules about social media contact with staff and photos of children,

rules for behavior and supervision on trips to the restroom and locker rooms, and

policies to discourage sexual harassment and peer-to-peer abuse.

Organizations that serve children should thoroughly screen all employees and volunteers with a criminal background check and structured in-person interviews.

New employee and volunteer training should clearly explain organizational policies and include learning how to identify, respond to and report problematic or predatory behavior. (Free training on how to recognize and respond to child maltreatment is available online at

As parents, there are ways to become comfortable talking to your children about sexuality that focus on keeping them healthy and safe:

Discuss your family's values about healthy sexuality and relationships.

Talk about how all parts of their body work and their proper names.

Talk about respectful and safe behaviors online and in real life.

Technology and media exposure are new terrain for parents. Set limits with media. Know what your children are watching on TV and online. Watch what your children are watching and determine whether it sends a message you endorse.

Talk to your children about the difference between privacy (doing something by themselves, but you know about it) and secrecy (doing something that you don't know about).

Remind children that temporary secrets, like a surprise party, may be OK, but permanent secrets never are! T

Talk about the type of touch they have with their peers and adults, and encourage them to set limits.

Be open to answering questions about anything to do with sexuality in real life or online. If you don't know the answer, you can figure it out together.

If everyone who reads this does at least one thing mentioned above, North Carolina can be a safer place for our children. Visit to learn more.

Sharon Hirsch is the president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse NC.


United Kingdom

Hundreds of Telford child sexual exploitation referrals

Almost 270 cases have been referred to a child sexual exploitation team since an investigation into a child sex abuse ring was launched, new figures show.

Telford has faced claims up to 1,000 girls may have been abused in the town since the 1980s.

A BBC Freedom of Information (FOI) request found 181 of 268 cases referred involved children under the age of 15.

Telford and Wrekin Council said it was unable to provide accurate details of historic cases prior to 2011.

The majority of the cases involve young girls between the ages of 12 and 15.

The number of children referred to the council reached a peak in 2016-17, with the Children Abused Through Exploitation (CATE) team accepting 58 referrals - 53 girls and five boys - in that year, the authority said.

The most recent figures from 2017-18, reveal 25 referrals - 19 of which were children aged 12-15.

An investigation by the Sunday Mirror into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Telford, prompted the Labour run council to commission an immediate inquiry into abuse in the town.

West Mercia Police, which has disputed the scale of abuse reported in the past, also announced in August that hundreds of hotel workers had been trained to spot signs of CSE.

Previously, Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said that since 2016 the force's CSE team in Telford had arrested 56 people, resulting in 29 charges, with a number of these investigations still ongoing.




National Child Protection Week Launched With Bravehearts Free “Personal Safety Parents' Guide”

Bravehearts is Australia's leading child protection organisation working to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.

For National Child Protection Week, Australia's leading child protection advocate Bravehearts, today launched their FREE Personal Safety Parents' Guide to help Australian parents better protect their children.  

The Guide can be downloaded from:

Every 90 minutes a child is substantiated as having been sexually assaulted in Australia - that's 1 in 5 children who are sexually harmed in some way before their 18th Birthday accounting for 58,000 children in all corners of Australia, every year.

To help empower parents to protect their children from sexual harm Bravehearts' FREE Personal Safety Parents' Guide gives parents and carers insight into the myths and facts about child sexual assault and valuable guidance on personal safety education for their children.

The Guide provides tips for keeping children of all ages safe online and simple step-by-step activities for teaching children personal safety, based on Bravehearts' acclaimed Ditto Keep Safe Adventure program that has helped to educate almost 1 Million Australian children in personal safety since 2006.

Bravehearts' Guide, developed by their education and research experts, gives parents and carers FREE access to easy-to-follow information for teaching children simple personal safety strategies.

These strategies can help kids build confidence and resilience to protect themselves in a variety of situations across the span of their young lives, including online.

Hetty Johnston AM, Founder and Executive Chair of Bravehearts said, “There is nothing more important than protecting our children and now every parent and carer can ensure they are better informed on the steps they need to take to help protect their children from harm.

“All Australians need to understand that child sexual assault is a crime that can potentially affect any family regardless of race, religion, gender and economic status – it doesn't discriminate.

“One of the most important things we can do is to empower our children to identify when something doesn't feel right, and to talk to and tell a trusted adult without fear of consequences.

“The Guide provides parents with tips on how to teach children simple strategies that, through practice, will become second nature and help them build their confidence and resilience empowering them with skills and knowledge to reduce their vulnerability to harmful situations and individuals.

“As part of National Child Protection Week we're urging every parent and carer to ensure they download Bravehearts' FREE Guide so they can teach their children about personal and online safety.

“Every Australian child has the right to feel safe and by helping parents and carers to empower their children with personal safety skills; together we can help prevent child sexual assault to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child,” said Ms Johnston.

Bravehearts is also inviting community support for National White Balloon Day on Friday 7 September by making a donation to help Bravehearts break the silence surrounding child sexual assault.

Bravehearts is Australia's leader in child protection offering specialised training services for government organisations, educators in schools and childcare centres, education and support services for children and their families, and free child safe information resources can be downloaded from our website 

For help or support people can call Bravehearts' toll free Support Line on 1800 272 831 Monday to Friday between  8:30am to 4:30pm (AEST) or visit our website


White Balloon Day is Friday 7 September during National Child Protection Week 2-8 September 2018

Bravehearts and White Balloon Day – Educate, Empower, Protect Our Kids!

White Balloon Day 2018 – How the community can get involved

Register to hold a White Balloon Day awareness or fundraising event or activity in your workplace, school, community group, sporting club, council or home.

Schools and childcare centres - take part in the White Balloon Day CHALK ART PROJECT to win free personal safety teaching resources for your school or centre.

Download free resources from the website to help spread the word about White Balloon Day and child protection week.

Donate or fundraise online to help prevent child sexual assault and protect Australian children –

Australian Child Sexual Assault Statistics

Every 90 minutes an Australian child is sexually assaulted.

58,000 Australian children are sexually assaulted in Australia each year.

One in five Australian children will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday. 

The majority of child sexual assault crimes are perpetrated by persons known to the child.

A sample of Australian women showed that 45% reported experiencing at least one unwanted sexual incident before 16 years of age by family members (31%), friends (54%) or strangers (14%).

Fewer than 28% of victims of child sexual assault disclose to authorities. Of this, only 17% of offences reported to police, result in convictions.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Bravehearts' specialised services address the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse White Balloon Day supports The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 and is endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments.

The outcomes of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have given adult survivors hope and in some cases, redress. With data from NSW Police showing 4% of all recent reported allegations were associated with an institution, this indicates that assaults in institutional environments are declining. 

With one Australian child sexually assaulted every 90 minutes, increasing awareness and education of this crime can increase reports of child sexual assault by persons known to the child and empower them with strategies and confidence to find their voice to say NO to child sexual assault and disclose to someone they know they can trust.

Recommendation 6.12

Among the recommendations, the Royal Commission called for support from governments at the national, state and territory levels, local governments, should designate child safety officer positions from existing staff profiles to carry out the following functions:

Developing child safe messages in local government venues, grounds and facilities;

Assisting local institutions to access online child safe resources;

Providing child safety information and support to local institutions on a needs basis; and,

Supporting local institutions to work collaboratively with key services to ensure child safe approaches are culturally safe, disability aware and appropriate for children from diverse backgrounds.

Indicators of Child Sexual Assault for Parents & Teachers

As children often lack the words to describe sexual assault, they find it exceptionally difficult to disclose.  The more severe the degree of harm, the less likely it is that the child/young person will disclose. The fear of a negative reaction and possible punishment can also prevent children from speaking out.  

Children may try to subtly open the conversation by asking “Do you like so and so?… I don't” or “I've got a secret”. However, there are a number of physical and behavioural symptoms that indicate a child or young person may have been harmed.  While physical and behavioural symptoms should be viewed as a sign that something may be worrying the child, it should NOT be automatically assumed that harm is occurring

By talking to the child, this may reveal something quite innocent so be sure to speak with the child before making accusations.

What Parents & Adults Should Look For

Parents, teachers, carers, child protection workers, counsellors etc., all need to know the symptoms of child sexual assault so if  there are significant changes in behaviour, increased fears, or physical symptoms, they can talk to the child to discuss what they might be feeling.

Common Indicators in Children

Common Indicators in Offenders

Fear of being hurt during nappy change or dressing.

Loss of concentration.

Development of eating disorders.

Fear of being alone with a particular person.

Sexual themes in artwork, stories, play etc..

Showing a knowledge of sexual behaviour beyond their years.

Bedwetting or soiling after being toilet trained.

“Acting out” behaviours; for example, aggression, destructive behaviours, truanting behaviour.

“Acting in” behaviours; for example, withdrawal from friends, depression.

Vaginal, penile or anal soreness, discharge or bleeding.

Problems with friends and schoolwork.

Vague symptoms of illness such as headache or tummy ache.


Inappropriate displays of affection or sexualised play.

Over attention to adults of a particular sex.

Paying particular interest to a child.

Isolating a child from other children.

Engaging in inappropriate/unwanted close physical contact with a child.

More interested in children than adults.

Suspicious behaviour in relation to children (watching/following/photos/gifts).

Often has a special ‘child friend'.

Encourages secrets in children.

Links sexuality and aggression in language or behaviour.

Makes reference to or makes fun of children's bodies.

Describes children with sexual words.

Seems unclear about what is appropriate with children and what is not.

Has an interest in sexual fantasies involving children.

Looks at or downloads child pornography.

Asks adult partners to act or dress like a child or teenager during sexual activity.

The Effects of Child Sexual Assault on Individuals and the Community

The Effects on Child Victims

More than 80% of children who experienced child sexual assault are reported to have some post-traumatic stress symptoms. Disclosure and reporting of the crime of child sexual assault can lead to preventing further harm and potentially; the prosecution of perpetrators while improving long-term outcomes for victims through counselling and support. However, the traumatic impact on victims can cause emotional distress and a range of cognitive distortions in childhood, including feelings of hopelessness, impaired trust and self-blame leading to the following issues:

Behaviour problems, poor self-esteem, and sexualised behaviours;

Development of insecure attachment patterns;

Failure to develop brain capacities necessary for modulating emotions;

Inability to discriminate among and label affective states;

Detachment from awareness of emotions and self;

Under-controlled and over-controlled behaviour patterns;

Lower grades and poorer academic achievement;

A defective, helpless, deficient sense of self; and,

Greater internalising and externalising behaviour problems.

The Effects on Adult Survivors

The impact of the crime of child sexual assault can last a lifetime with adults suffering from a number of behavioural and metal health conditions including:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, reduced self-esteem, drug and alcohol dependence, heavy and hazardous drinking, illicit drug and substance abuse, drug overdose, anti-social and harmful behaviour; and increased violence and hostility among male victims.

There is an increased likelihood of being arrested in adolescence by as much as 59%.

They are 49 times more likely to die from accidental overdose than other Australians.

Suicide is significantly higher (18 times higher) among adult victims of child sexual assault compared to other Australians. Women victims are 40 times more likely to take their own life.

The Fiscal Effects on the Australian Economic & Community

According to studies (2007), the future financial cost to Australia over the lifetime of abused, neglected and sexually assaulted children is estimated to be approx. between $13.7 ($105k per child) and $38.7 billion ($297k per child).

Adult Responses to the Subject of Child Sexual Assault

In 2009, the Australian Childhood Foundation published outcomes from their third survey on the national community attitude about child sexual assault and child protection. Key findings included:

1 in 3 Australians would not believe children if they disclosed they were being assaulted.

Greater than 1 in 4 Australians do not feel confident enough to recognise the signs of child abuse, neglect and child sexual assault.

1 in 5 lacked the confidence to know what to do if they suspected that a child was being harmed.

Unless they come face to face with the issue, collectively Australians rate petrol prices, public transport and roads as issues of greater concern than child abuse and sexual assault.

90% of adults surveyed believed that the community needs to be better informed about the problem of child abuse and sexual assault in Australia. 86% of Australian believed that Commonwealth and State Governments should invest more money in protecting children from abuse, neglect and sexual assault.



(video on site)

What human trafficking looks like locally

by Leah Shields

The Kentucky Attorney General's Office is dealing with 217 cases from 2017. The amount of reports in Kentucky have been on the rise over the years. They believe it's because more people know what to look for.

Here's what you should look out for:

— Someone who doesn't know what city they are in.

— A homeless child with expensive gift.

— A person who is being controlled by someone.

— If there is a lack of eye contact.

— Branding.

— Injuries.

This home in McCracken County is a hidden haven.

“These young women come to us locally, around the U.S., and it is free of charge counseling restoration for survivors,” Carol Smith said. She's a co-founder of Victory Through Grace ministries.

“Survivors have come from the hands of an older sister selling them in exchange for money or drugs,” she said. Their home is where survivors can come for help.

It's a restoration home. The people who stay there share their stories, sometimes through art. One woman used a timeline to talk about how she was abused and sold by a pimp. Some of what was done to her happened in her preteens.

“People always think it's this force-able snatching, a bad guy jumping out of the bushes and throwing a child or adult into sex trafficking,” Allyson Taylor said. “It's far scarier because it is a much more manipulative process. A trafficker could be someone you know.”

Allyson Taylor is with the attorney general's office. She is in charge of prosecuting and preventing human trafficking and child abuse. She's talking to Murray's Human Rights Commission about what to look for.

A big portion of being able to prevent this from happening is being educated and trafficking comes in many forms.

“Fifty percent of our survivors come from being trafficked by a loved one, a family member,” Smith said. “Trafficking isn't something you just see in the movies. It is something that can happen at home.”

The more you know, the more you can help stop it.

If you see something suspcious, call 911 or reach out to a human trafficking hotline. In Kentucky, the number is 1-877-KYSAFE1. The national hotline is 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.



Explainer: What do the survivors of Catholic Church abuse want from the Vatican?

The papal visit saw many headlines about clerical abuse and about how survivor groups were unhappy with the Church's response to it.

by Stephen McDermott

LAST WEEK, TENS of thousands of people arrived in Dublin to attend events as part of the World Meeting of Families, a triennial gathering of members of the Catholic Church.

The six-day event was rounded off by a visit from Pope Francis, the first to Ireland by an acting pontiff in almost 40 years, and the first since the country's relationship with the Church began to deteriorate.

Ahead of the visit, there was particular focus on how the pope would address child sex abuse, one of the most significant factors behind the Irish public's lapsed Catholicism.

However, despite the pope meeting a small number of abuse survivors on Saturday, several groups expressed dissatisfaction with how he addressed the issue of abuse.

But what was it that the survivors were looking for, and how likely is the Church to address the issues they continually raise? Here we explain.

How was the issue of abuse addressed during the papal visit?

On an official level, child sexual abuse by members of the clergy was discussed multiple times.

In a speech at Dublin Castle, the pope said he could not fail “to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church”, particularly those responsible for their protection and education.

He added: “The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.

“I myself share those sentiments.”

At the same event, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there was still “much to be done” to bring about justice and healing for survivors of clerical abuse.

He made specific reference to Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse as “stains on our State, our society and also the Catholic Church.”

In one of his final engagements during his first day, the pope held a private 90-minute meeting with eight survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse, during which he compared the cover-up of abuse by church authorities as ‘caca', or excrement.

And during the papal mass in the Phoenix Park on Sunday, the pope asked for forgiveness for abuses of “power, conscience and sexual abuse” perpetrated by members of the Church.

How did individuals and groups react?

The response wasn't exactly a warm one.

Reacting to events at Dublin Castle on Saturday, campaigners suggested the pontiff did not go far enough, with Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International – who was himself abused as a child – calling the pope's comments a “shameful deflection” of responsibility.

Later, some were struck by the pope's genuine tone – particularly his use of the vulgar word ‘caca' – during his meeting with survivors of abuse, although others said he still needed to apologise on behalf of the Church.

At another event on Saturday evening, one survivor of abuse at the hands of a former priest, Darren McGavin, said he was not looking for an apology, but greater accountability from the Church.

And on Sunday, Táiniste Simon Coveney echoed comments from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the previous day by saying the Church needed to act to show it was repentant for historical abuse.

What do survivors of abuse want?

It's a bit of a complicated answer, with some groups who advocate for survivors also calling on the Church to deal with issues such as Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, and illegal adoptions.

On these issues, groups would like to see the Vatican support any Government action, such as an inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes, particularly in Tuam.

But when it comes to the Vatican on its own, survivors also want to ensure that abuse won't be repeated, that abusers within the church are held accountable, and that redress that is owed is paid by the Church.

Deirdre Kenny of advocacy group One in Four told  that “the bottom line” for survivors was ensuring that none of the issues raised by survivors and advocacy groups ever happened again.

“For that to happen, procedures like mandatory reporting [of child sex abuse] and other structures for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people need to be put in place,” she said.

The incorporation of mandatory reporting of abuse into Canon Law (ie to make it part of the law of the Church) is one of the biggest issues for survivors, because it would show the Church actually wants to hold abusers within its ranks to account.

Abuse survivor Marie Collins - who resigned from the Vatican's child protection commission last year – suggested the move would be a reversal of the system the Church had in place to protect abusers.

“Sadly, more often Canon Law has been used to protect the abuser than to punish them,” she said.

“Here in Ireland in the '90s, we saw bishops being told by the Vatican not to report abusing priests to the police as it was against Canon Law, and that is just untenable.”

Similarly, survivors groups also say the Vatican still holds a considerable amount of information about abusers which it has refused to release.

Given the Vatican's past refusal to co-operate with inquiries into clerical abuse in Ireland, survivors here believe the release of this information would show the Church is actually serious about fighting the problem.

Finally, there is also the issue of redress.

According to a report by the Comptroller & Auditor General last year, just €209 million had, at the time, been paid to the Government by religious groups to address historical child abuse.

This compares to €1.5 billion that had been spent by the Government, for whom the policy towards financial redress has long been that all costs should be split between the State and religious groups.

However many groups believe they owe significantly less than this, while others, such as the Christian Brothers, argue that the C&AG report does not cover periods during which it made “significant payments” to survivors.

It's also important to note that financial redress is not any more of a priority for survivors than seeing those who perpetrated abuse held accountable, or to ensure the Vatican implements structures to prevent similar abuse in the future.

In other words, survivors won't simply be bought off, but the payment of an agreed amount of compensation would be seen, at least, as a symbolic acceptance of accountability.

What happens next?

It's very hard to say, but survivors and advocacy groups won't exactly be holding their breath following events at the weekend.

Yesterday, Marie Collins revealed that the pope was not familiar with Magdalen Laundries or industrial schools when he was told about them during his meeting with abuse survivors on Saturday.

The pope also declined to comment on a letter written by a former Vatican official that claimed he ignored sexual abuse claims against US priests.

The pontiff's continued silence on sexual abuse cases there is unlikely to inspire confidence that he truly shares the pain of Ireland's Catholic community, as he claimed at Dublin Castle.

Back at home, the Irish clergy has at least shown some sense of awareness of the scale of the problem.

Last week, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he believed that more could be done to make the judicial system easier for those who had been abused to come forward.

On a more dispiriting note, Martin also suggested the true scale of clerical abuse survivors was still not apparent, as the majority of those who suffered had still to come forward.

Between the silence of those victims and a pope who was unable to apologise to survivors of abuse, it looks like the Church still has a long path to travel before it achieves redemption in the eyes of its victims.


Washington, DC

Catholic psychologist, abuse survivor, offers advice for families

by Zita Ballinger Fletcher

WASHINGTON — After recent reports describing clergy sex abuse, Paul Peloquin, a Catholic clinical psychologist and a clergy abuse survivor, shared advice for victims and their families.

"For Catholics who have been abused by a priest or clergy, it's doubly difficult because they have not only been psychologically traumatized, but spiritually traumatized," Peloquin told Catholic News. "Unless that is addressed, healing is very difficult."

His work as a Catholic psychologist is tied to his own journey as an abuse survivor.

"I'm a survivor myself," said Peloquin, who is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I left the church for over 30 years. I thought I had the perfect justification. I totally rejected the church and walked away."

Peloquin overcame the effects of the abuse by reclaiming his faith and helping fellow victims in his professional life as a psychologist. Once suffering from spiritual doubt, he now works to promote spiritual healing.

"If one says, 'the Catholic Church is bad' or 'all priests are bad,' that's too broad of a brushstroke. They're not," said Peloquin, who struggled with his beliefs for a long time. "I thought that way for a while."

His decision to return to Catholicism was difficult. It resulted from experiences that changed his perspectives over time.

"I came to a point in my life where I came to my senses and realized I wasn't finding what I was looking for in life -- that there was a great spiritual void," Peloquin said. "My heart started to soften over a period of time. It took many years."

He started going to church while escorting his terminally ill father to daily Mass. Peloquin did not attend to worship, but attended out of a sense of duty and obligation.

As time passed, Peloquin sought out a one-on-one experience with God -- not in a busy parish, but in the isolation of a Benedictine monastery in the mountains. He said he was able to develop his personal faith in God while experiencing the beauty of nature.

Peloquin said that going to a church can trigger traumatic memories for victims. He advised survivors to seek spiritual healing in a place where they feel peace.

"If people can find a way to be quiet and still, the Lord wants to reach out to them," he said.

He said that while many survivors feel the need to vent their anger, it is only a first step in the healing process. Peloquin also does not believe that money awarded in damages can restore victims to spiritual and emotional wholeness.

"If people say, 'Well, I'm just going to get money,' that's not going to heal anything," Peloquin said. "We're talking about a psychological and spiritual wound."

He advised parents to seek help from police or professional counselors if their child discloses sexual abuse.

"I would recommend that the parents get a consult with someone who is familiar with this, to see if they could ask the right questions, how they should react and how they are reacting," he said. "Don't go off and attack a priest or a teacher without getting the support of a professional."

Professionals trained to interview children can often uncover details that parents cannot, while still being sensitive to the needs of the child.

"Oftentimes abuse is committed by someone that is known by the family members," he said.

While most parents react emotionally because of disbelief or anger, Peloquin said it is important to keep calm. Open-mindedness, a caring demeanor and good listening skills prevent a child from "shutting down," he explained.

Many children hesitate to come forward because of fear that no one will believe them. Children who have been seduced over a period of time also feel guilty about being abused. Peloquin said parents must not allow their religious or personal views get in the way of listening to their child.

"The child needs to feel that they're respected and protected in all things," he said.

The psychologist said children should be educated about appropriate and inappropriate types of touching. Kids also should be encouraged to speak to a parent, teacher or other responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with a particular adult. Doing so, Peloquin said, will enable children to recognize inappropriate behavior and not be seduced into an unwanted relationship. Children should also be encouraged to vocalize their concerns to others.

In advice to fellow Catholics who are struggling emotionally because of clergy sex abuse, Peloquin said panic is not the right response.

"Most priests are good people, but there are some who aren't," he said. "We need the priests. We don't have the sacraments without the priests. But we need good priests, who want to live the life of the priesthood and as servants."

Peloquin said that during his years as a professional psychologist, he has never seen any harm resulting from parents supporting and listening to their child. Problems arise, he said, when parents are close-minded.

"If parents deny it and say, 'this can never happen,' that's very harmful."



Catholic Church Abuse Survivors Want Statute Of Limitations Eliminated, Records Released


Several weeks ago, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report detailing the exhaustive extent of child sex abuse allegations in the state's Catholic dioceses. Some survivors of similar abuse are calling for that process to be repeated state-by-state.

That perspective is shared in two members of the Denver chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Chapter leader Jeb Barrett and member Michael Carpino talked to Colorado Matters about how their abuse impacted their lives, and what steps they want to see taken.

Interview Highlights

On what changes they believe should be made to the legal system to help other survivors:

"I think the Attorney General, any investigation needs to ask for the opening of personnel records where the Catholic Church has kept fastidious records of their clergy's conduct, their placements and so forth, for what that reveals, because it is there. That is the first piece.

But the goal should be to see that we eliminate criminal statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors, I would call it. And also that the victims have the ability to sue the diocese in a reasonable and timely manner. And then all of these confidentiality agreements that have been signed over the years need to be disclosed and tossed aside so that people can come forward and say, 'This is more evidence of cover up.'"

On coming forward about their abuse in the Church:

"I was 63 before I talked to anybody about my abuse. And went to my first SNAP meeting. Heard other stories. And it began to bring up stories that I had hidden behind layers and layers of denial and fear and trauma myself. It was from that that I began to recover I guess. And that's like 15 years ago. I'm much more comfortable talking today about what happened, the grooming, the use of alcohol, the fact that I was taught to never say no to an adult, so when somebody asked me to do something or did something to me, I was a very vulnerable victim and went along with it, and drank myself almost to death over those experiences of betrayal."

On the influence of the Boston Globe's reporting and the movie "Spotlight":

"For me the pivotal point was the article that broke in the Boston Globe with the reporters. That piece of it gave me a safe avenue. The next portion of the safe zone for me came about when the movie Spotlight came out. And that's when I really came out publicly, because I dreamt about that movie being told, I wanted the truth to be told about what the Catholic Church has done."

Full Transcript

Ryan Warner:  Gentlemen, welcome to the program.

Michael Carpino:  Thank you very much.

Jeb Barrett:  Thank you.

RW:  What is your response to the letter from the Denver Archbishop calling for this independent lay investigation? Jeb?

JB:  My first response is I don't trust that the fox can guard the hen house, because we've seen efforts like this many times before. An external, and independent examination, such as a grand jury report, is the only way that we're going to get to the real facts underlying this endemic problem in our society.

RW:  SNAP in fact has called for attorneys general in every state to conduct their own investigation. Is that a conversation you're having with Cynthia Coffman?

JB:  We do plan to request a chat with Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General's office to see what has to be done to bring about a grand jury investigation in the state of Colorado like other states are doing.

RW:  What specifically would you want the Attorney General to look into. Help us understand what you think the scope of that should be.

JB:  I think the Attorney General, any investigation needs to ask for the opening of personnel records where the Catholic Church has kept fastidious records of their clergy's conduct, their placements and so forth, for what that reveals, because it is there. That is the first piece. But the goal should be to see that we eliminate criminal statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors, I would call it. And also that the victims have the ability to sue the diocese in a reasonable and timely manner. And then all of these confidentiality agreements that have been signed over the years need to be disclosed and tossed aside so that people can come forward and say, "This is more evidence of cover up."

RW:  The Denver Archdiocese has said that 2002 was really a pivotal year for the Church in dealing with sexual abuse, and that since then there have been no new acts that have come to light. What do you say to that?

JB:  I would only guess that they know of, that they're willing to talk about. The only way we're going to know for sure is if those personnel records are opened to an independent external authority for examination.

MC:  The piece I would add to this, it's not unusual for victims to wait decades before they come forward. So we do not know whether or not any victims are out there. One of the things that I would ask for Cynthia Coffman to do is to put up hotlines to ask for victims to come forward since those dates. We've known from the past the Church has lied to us about victims. They've lied to society in general. It's been a pivotal year.

RW:  Talk to me about this hotline. Why do you think that's an important step?

MC:  Because they have to, victims need a very safe place to come to. For a lot of them, it's a very painful act to step forward because there's fear involved. There's denial involved that it happened. Some victims just do not want to address the problem. It hurts too bad.

RW:  Do you remember feeling that yourself?

MC:  Yeah, Ryan, from my standpoint, I went nearly 30 years before I came forward. And that's not unusual. Some people wait until their 80s until they come forward.

RW:  What happened after 30 years?

MC:  For me the pivotal point was the article that broke in the Boston Globe with the reporters. That piece of it gave me a safe avenue.

RW:  Your abuse occurred in New England.

MC:  Yeah. The next portion of the safe zone for me came about when the movie Spotlight came out. And that's when I really came out publicly, because I dreamt about that movie being told, I wanted the truth to be told about what the Catholic Church has done.

(excerpt from “Spotight” begings)

Speaker 2:  Well apparently this priest molested kids in six different parishes over the last 30 years and the attorney for the victims, Mr. ...

Speaker 3:  Garabedian.

Speaker 2:  Thanks. Mr. Garabedian says Cardinal Law found out about it 15 years ago and did nothing.

Speaker 4:  Yeah, I think that attorney's a bit of a crank, and the Church dismissed the claim.

Speaker 3:  He said, she said.

Speaker 2:  Whether Mr. Garabedian is a crank or not, he says he has documents that prove the Cardinal knew.

Speaker 5:  As I understand it, those documents are under seal.

Speaker 2:  Okay, but the fact remains, a Boston priest abused 80 kids. We have a lawyer who says he can prove Law knew about it. And we've written all of two stories in the last six months. This strikes me as an essential story to a local paper. I think at the very least we have to go through those documents.

(“Spotlight” excerpt ends)

MC:  And with the Boston Globe report, I thought I was one of a few victims. And there has been thousands in the United States that have been sexually assaulted by priests. When you look at it globally it's even more than that.

RW:  Jeb, did you have a similar experience. How long did it take for you to speak up.

JB:  I was 63 before I talked to anybody about my abuse. And went to my first SNAP meeting. Heard other stories. And it began to bring up stories that I had hidden behind layers and layers of denial and fear and trauma myself. It was from that that I began to recover I guess. And that's like 15 years ago. I'm much more comfortable talking today about what happened, the grooming, the use of alcohol, the fact that I was taught to never say no to an adult, so when somebody asked me to do something or did something to me, I was a very vulnerable victim and went along with it, and drank myself almost to death over those experiences of betrayal.

RW:  We spoke to the Archdiocese and they mentioned several important changes. One is much better screening of potential priests, sort of weeding this out from the beginning. And also just a zero tolerance policy that says if there is a credible allegation, that will be immediately told to law enforcement and it will be immediately investigated and that priest will be at least temporarily removed from that Church. Do you take some comfort in those types of changes?

JB:  I certainly do. It gives me great hope that they are doing what they're willing to do to stop the abuse where they see it right now. But I still have the concern about those they don't know about. Or have been released from the priesthood and are out in the community now, hidden from the public, because there was never any sort of report of their crimes.

RW:  Michael?

MC:  Yeah, my view's a little bit different than Jeb's. Last year it was in June timeframe, there was a priest that was ordained in New Jersey. He was 30 days into his ordainment and he sexually assaulted a female, a thirteen-year-old girl. When I hear that they have processes in place to prevent this from happening, the processes aren't working if there are still individuals that are becoming priests that are abusing kids. You talked about zero tolerance, if I can, Ryan.

RW:  Sure.

MC:  Let's talk about Cardinal McCarrick. The Catholic Church, from what I've read, have known about McCarrick's issues of abusing kids going back into the 1980s-

RW:  But this is really, by the way, the case that has brought into question the future of the Pope, just to be clear.

MC:  And so McCarrick was inside the Church for another 30 plus years, almost 40 years when the Church knew about he had abused children, and the only way they implemented the zero tolerance when it became public knowledge. Public knowledge because the media exposed it, not because the Catholic Church came forward and said that McCarrick was an abuser. It was because an individual came forward. The press picked up on it and they ran with it.

So, there is cases out there that and I believe still within the Catholic Church, however you want to define that in the United States or worldwide, there is individuals that have abused kids that are still working for the Catholic Church.

RW:  I want to ask this question for folks listening in Colorado. Does SNAP have any evidence that there are people working for the Catholic Church right now in this state who are threats?

JB:  No specific evidence.

RW:  Okay.

JB:  That is probably because people are still hesitant to come forward in this climate.

RW:  What did this mean for your faith? Do you still identify as Catholic, by the way?

MC:  I do not, absolute not, no. To back up, I was an altar boy at the time that I was abused. During that timeframe prior to my abuse I actually thought about becoming a priest, but I have nothing to do with the Catholic Church today.

RW:  How about you, Jeb?

JB:  I've separated myself from the Catholic Church except when I am employed as a musician, and that is just to do concerts. I have no faith in the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy. And that is something I really need to make a distinction about. I still believe that the Church is really the people. I have a sadness for the people who are still feeling shame and guilt because of what the hierarchy has done to smear the name of Catholicism, the religion and so forth.

RW:  You make a distinction between the power and the people?

JB:  I love people. I love those people. I care for those people. I love the music.

RW:  We also heard from the Denver Archdiocese that to extend statute of limitations, so far as their argument was made to us that, that would lead to injustice because you have people's poor memories, you have perhaps the deaths of witnesses. What do you say to that?

JB:  I say that reveals their position that they're more interested in protecting hidden predators than they are in protecting children. The question that needs to be asked of law makers, as well as the hierarchy is, are you more interested in protecting children and vulnerable adults, or in protecting predators, sexual predators, not just in the Church, but across the culture?

RW:  What do you want to see happen from here? Let me ask that under the broader context of the future of this Pope?

MC:  I don't, the Pope has his own issues that he has to deal with at this point. What I want to happen from here, now Ryan, I always had the dream that I wanted a movie to be told about what went on in the Catholic Church. When I heard the movie was coming out-

RW:  Spotlight.

MC:  Spotlight, exactly, it sent chills through my spine because it was part of the story that I wanted. It was my dream. Today what I want, I would love to see happen, it's not within the Catholic Church. I would like to see every Attorney General in this nation do an investigation of the Catholic Church. I would like to see the Department of Justice do an investigation because there was federal laws violated here too, and everybody will know the truth is what I'm looking for. The truth of what went on, what transpired, so that people can make their own judgment, not the judgment that may be tainted by individuals, but the truth of the matter of what actually went on in the cover-up.

I define it that they were wolves in sheep's clothing in what they've done. There's a lot of cover up associated with the pedophiles that abuse children and the individuals that cover it up need to be exposed. And that is why they didn't want the grand jury to put the report out in Pennsylvania because individuals were identified that grossly covered up the assaults and the crimes that were committed.

RW:  Jeb, what do you want in the long term?

JB:  I'd like to see the names of all those who have been convicted and possibly even those where there's credible allegations on sexual offender registries. Of course, only those convicted can appear there. But I think it's most important for the public to know just who should not be trusted. From whom should they protect their children?

RW:  What would that look like, practically? So let's say that there was an allegation against a priest, today.

JB:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

RW:  And now the Church says it will be investigated thoroughly. Would you like to see some sort of centralized database so that if there were multiple accusations, you could start to put a picture together? Practically, what do you think that would look like?

JB:  Well I can only say what I've seen happen to some dioceses and that is where there have been credible allegations, they first of all publish the names of the clergy, including deacons, on their websites, and also nuns, on their websites, for people to see where they have served so that some would say, "Oh, yes, he was in my parish."

But I think, again, the government needs to provide such a listing for people to be made aware. The other thing that has happened to many of them is they have promised a visit, or committed to a visit to the parishes where there were offending priests, to talk with them about it and encourage others to come forward. I think that's important, so they can be a part of the healing process for the victims because we need to see more attention given to the work the victims need in order to survive. Not so much on what the Church is doing, but what are the victims getting? Are they getting any kind of reparation? Are they getting any kind of counseling? Are they getting support in overcoming the trauma?

RW:  Does this moment in time feel different from past pivotal moments in this?

MC:  For me, absolutely. There's been a change that has occurred with the report that came out of Pennsylvania and I hope the rest of the states will line up. It will expose the truth, and that's, you know, Ryan, that will be closure for me.

RW:  Thanks to both of you for being with us.

MC:  Thank you.

JB:  Thank you very much for having us here. I really appreciate that.



(video on site)

This fall's debate on child sex abuse reforms is the Legislature's biggest political, moral test | Analysis

by John L. Micek

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro's name appears nowhere on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

But that doesn't mean that the Montgomery County Democrat isn't running, in his own way, against the Republican-controlled General Assembly that will convene next week for a ridiculously short pre-election session.

In a wide-ranging conversation with the PennLive/Patriot-News Editorial Board, Shapiro, 45, pressed hard for lawmakers to adopt the four recommendations included in that blockbuster grand jury report detailing decades of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses.

Shapiro was unambiguous in his support for the creation of a two-year "lookback" that would allow now-adult sex abuse survivors to bring claims in civil court.

And he preferred it to the creation, as some have suggested, of some kind of mediated, victims' compensation fund that would be administered by the church.

"I stand with the grand jurors. I stand with the survivors. I'm for each and every one of these four recommendations, Shapiro told the editorial board.

Let's be blunt: The pressure on the Legislature's GOP leadership to act this fall is massive. Shapiro, who's now a national name because of the report, is in the vanguard of that pressure campaign. And this is the biggest challenge they've faced since the Sandusky scandal at Penn State seven years ago.

So, for Republicans, a failure to act, particularly in the face of the national and international headlines generated by a nearly 900-page document that is horrifying in its comprehensiveness and graphic detail, would a political meltdown of the first order.

Senate Republicans are looking to safeguard at least a half-dozen seats in the Philadelphia suburbs. In the House, Democrats could flip as many as eight to 10 Republican seats.

The campaign commercials practically write themselves. And judging by the reaction of one Democratic consultant when this question was broached - they may be written already. 

Yes, even if they sustain those losses, the GOP would still hold a majority in both chambers. But Democrats would, for the first time in years, have a serious voice in the process. If he wins re-election, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would find his hand strengthened for a second term.

But away from the politics, it would also be a historic policy crack-up and a profound moral failure if lawmakers can't reach agreement on a reform bill in the 10 or so days they'll be in session before Election Day. 

The way Shapiro sees it, adopting that two-year lookback, along with approving language eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and clarifying state law on the duty to report abuse, is the only way to "prevent this type of widespread abuse and cover-up from ever happening again," he said.

Eliminating the criminal statute of limitations should be a relatively easy lift.

It's the fight over the retroactive, two-year lookback on civil claims where things get really dicey. But not impossible.

Supporters of the change, including state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat and abuse survivor, have argued that the window is justified by the special circumstances of child victimization that requires a mix of time, distance and personal healing that can vary widely from person-to-person. The language has Wolf's backing.

Opponents of the retroactive civil window have argued creating such an opening solely for survivors of child sexual abuse would be unconstitutional.

Shapiro said Wednesday he has seen no case law in Pennsylvania that supports that premise.

"Anyone who is a student of the law law, and who has looked at this carefully and studied case law and studied Supreme Court precedent carefully, should arrive at the same conclusion," he said.

One of the top Republican lawyers in the state Senate, Drew Crompton, doesn't agree with Shapiro's analysis.

"We believe there is recent [Pennsylvania] Supreme Court case law that says you can't change [the statute of limitations] after the fact," Crompton, a top aide to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said last month. "We think we're on very solid ground constitutionally."

Scarnati, who's a faithful Catholic, is a sponsor of a reform bill that's been parked in the House since February 2017 after being unanimously approved by the Senate. It's the legislative battlefield where this fall's larger fight will be waged.

The debate over constitutionality is an important one. It's critical that lawmakers get this right the first time.

But the survivors - and I've talked to them - want see their elected officials in action, fighting to the last inch on their behalf.

That might be even more important.

One survivor, Shaun Dougherty of Johnstown, even told me that it doesn't matter to him if the look-back gets knocked down on any appeal. It only matters that they believed enough to make the vote in the first place. 

Think about that one for a minute. And the responsibility that comes with that kind of expectation.

It's going to be up to the faithful to figure out how to fix the church. 

It's up to lawmakers to pass the best bill they possibly can. And if it gets challenged in court, that'll be the risk they have to take. It'll ultimately be up to a judge to decide whose arguments about constitutionality win the day.

During floor debate, it's pretty common to hear lawmakers urge their colleagues not to "let the perfect be the enemy of the good," when it comes to passing legislation.

This is the truest test of that axiom they'll ever face.



For Whom There Will Be No Royal Commission: Lest We Forget The Silent Survivors Of Child Sexual Abuse

Chris Mordd Richards tells his personal story of survival.

by Chris Mordd Richards

If you have been sexually assaulted by someone, please do not suffer in silence for as long as I did without telling someone or seeking professional help. You are not alone and help is there for you.

Now that the royal commission into child sex abuse is over, many victims have had the chance to tell their story and be heard. Many other victims remain unheard though, all around the country, people who were also abused in their childhood, just not by a church figure.

Child sex abuse is, sadly, widespread throughout our community, and impacts many more than just the victim, with the family and friends of survivors also affected.

I am one of the many thousands out there abused outside the church. My abuse occurred inside the home, which is where this type of abuse most commonly occurs. I wanted the chance to tell my story, as part of my own healing process, and in the hope it will reach others also suffering as I was for many years due to the abuse I endured at age 14.

I just want to make clear, this piece isn't about Same Sex Marriage, it isn't even about Safe Schools – or whatever other personal ideology you want to project onto it.

This is about men who take advantage of children for their own sexual gratification, regardless of age, gender, sexual preference or faith. This is about the surviving victims of their abuse, those many thousands out there for whom there will never be a Royal Commission.

It took me almost 20 years before I told came forward about what had happened to me, and, unable to name my accuser any longer, this is the only chance I have to tell my story, in my own words, and be heard as a survivor.

I was 32 years old, before I stopped being embarrassed or ashamed of being a survivor of adult male sexual assault. The stigmatisation in society of ‘victims ‘of sexual assault – especially women, but also teens and even children – is a real issue. It also took me a long time to come to grips with my experience, especially against the background of my Asperger's and bi-polar disorder over those years.

Now I am ready to speak publicly about my story, in the hope it may reach and help others and act in its own small way towards reducing the stigmatisation around surviving sexual assault, regardless of age. I have to remind myself often: I did nothing wrong, this was done to me, but it does not define me, it merely informs who I am.

You will notice I used the word ‘victim' in quotation marks in the above paragraph. That is because the word victim is not very popular among sexual assault survivors, or those who provide support services to them.

Miriam Webster offers up three different meanings for the word:

One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent;

One that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions;

One that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment;

One that is tricked or duped.

For me, none of those really come close to describing the soul-crushing effect on your life of being sexually assaulted by another.

In modern Western society the word victim seems to portray an element of at least partial blame or culpability on behalf of the affected person, and sexual assault survivors are often forced to justify their accounts to be believed. No-one would force a child to justify being raped though, I can hear some of you thinking that right now.

While that is generally true, the pervasiveness of blaming victims in general and the stigmatisation around males being the victim of sexual assault growing up, kept me from coming forward or telling almost anyone about the assault on me for a very long time, way longer than I now wish was the case.

It was not until four years ago I started properly identifying myself as a survivor, instead of a victim, with the help of counselling from the Canberra-based support service SAMSSA (the Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Assault offers counselling and support to men over the age of 16 in the ACT and surrounding region. They can be reached on their Crisis line: (02) 6247 2525, or by emailing

This is my story. An alias is used for the name of the perpetrator, as his name is no longer known to me. Some elements of the story have been altered in very minor ways for the purposes of the piece, and some of the time periods mentioned may be a day or two off on either side, due to the nature of memories involving traumatic events and the intervening time period. The main elements are completely factual and occurred roughly as described.

CANBERRA, SPRING OF 1996, a middle class suburban home in the south of the city.

Chris is asleep in his parent's house, 14-years-old, the eldest of four boys and the child of separated parents, soon to be divorced. A couple of days earlier, his mother had left on a three-week long overseas trip to stay with her sister and family in Africa, where they lived and worked as missionaries at the time.

His parent's relationship is in tatters, even that much is obvious to him, and there is no chance of reconciliation between them. Six months prior, his father had come out as gay to Chris and his brothers. Chris didn't really understand the full impact of what that meant, but he knew what sex was by then – despite his conservative Christian upbringing, he knew being gay meant his dad liked men instead of women, and he was fine with that.

When Allan first came out to him, he told his dad that he didn't completely know what it meant, “but he was his dad, and he would always love him and nothing would ever change that”.

Allan had recently started openly dating a man for the first time, a tall, well-built masseuse in his late 40's named Charles. Charles was a friendly guy, especially to Chris, who often felt starved for social attention due to a misdiagnosed mental health condition that left him socially inept among his peers. He found Charles' interest in him engaging and welcome at first.

After his mother had left on her trip, Charles had started sleeping overnight at the house, in his parent's former marriage bed. Chris was fine with this at first, and he enjoyed the extra attention Charles gave him when he was around.

This lasted until the morning Charles woke Chris around 5am, sitting on the side of his bed.

Charles' hand was rubbing his genitals, which he realised were firmly erect, as he awoke to Charles telling him “It's okay, don't panic, don't scream, it's all okay”. With feelings of sexual confusion flooding his brain and an overriding sense of trust and faith in adults instilled since birth, he allowed Charles to masturbate him to completion without much protest or complaint.

After Charles was done, he told Chris that he must not say anything about their “experience” to anyone, especially not his father. If he told Allan, Charles said, then Allan would want Charles to take Chris into bed with both of them, and he was trying to protect Chris from this, he said.

In his confused state, and with social naivety bred from a life of conservative upbringing, Chris let himself believe at the time Charles was telling the truth, that his father would want that, although for reasons that never made sense then or since.

He did what Charles wanted, and said nothing to anyone about the growing number of mornings he and Charles would share an “experience” together. He didn't even want to think about it let alone tell anyone, so ashamed and embarrassed of it all for reasons he could not even hope to comprehend at the time. The soon daily visits to his bed just before sunrise fast became normalised for Chris. So traumatic and chaotic was his life in general at the time that this was simply too much for his psyche to process, so without even realising, he simply adapted as best he could, and internalised it all.

The “experiences” each morning only came towards an end after two weeks of what by then involved much more sexual activity than where it had started. Allan had been out for hours on business and had left Chris at home by himself to be watched over by Charles. Chris' younger brothers were all staying at friends' houses till the morning.

As Charles was a masseuse, and often carried a fancy folding massage table and supplies in his car, and knowing by then that Chris had regular upper back pain growing up, he offered to give Chris a massage. Telling Chris that in order to be able to massage him properly, and with Chris well-groomed to his abuse by this point, Charles easily convinced him that he needed to strip down naked and have a small towel placed over his middle for the massage.

It was only 15 minutes into the massage that Chris heard the sound of the door, his father had just returned home – early. Although that afternoon Charles had not touched Chris sexually in any way at that point, the sight of his soon to be 15-year-old son lying naked on the massage table, and his boyfriend oiled up obviously in the middle of massaging him, was too much for Allan.

As Allan orders Chris to his room he is already yelling at Charles, but Chris doesn't hear any of the specific words, he has gone into shock and is functioning on pure survival instincts. All he can think to do is hide. So hide he does, curling up in the back of his wardrobe in the foetal position. The rest of the night is thankfully a blank to him, his mind still protecting him at that point at least from the horrors of what he had experienced the past few weeks.

After that, Allan never talks to Chris about what happened that night, other than to tell him he is not to let Charles massage him again for any reason. Charles is back around the house within a day or two though, having apparently made up with Allan. After this point, something inside Chris is starting to finally tell him that he cannot trust Charles, and thankfully the morning visits don't resume when Charles starts sleeping over at the house again.

Perhaps sensing that the trust and control he had managed to groom into Chris is starting to weaken, Charles soon plays the ‘Ace up his Sleeve'  to get Chris alone, using the one thing Chris loves more than just about anything at that point in life – books, specifically fiction he could escape into in an attempt get away from, or make sense of, the confused and messy life he'd had by that point.

Charles has often bragged about his massive collection of novels, and he offers to let Chris come to his house and choose any he wants to keep, as many as he wants. Since Charles has so many books though, he explains to Chris and Allan, it makes sense if Chris stayed overnight at Charles' house with him, so he could have plenty of time to pick out and choose as many books as he wanted to take home the next day.

Despite a gut feeling that something about it all was not right, and his distrust of Charles and their “experiences” at that point, the allure of the offer was just too much for Chris. By then starting to exhibit elements of Stockholm syndrome and desperately still wanting to trust Charles, despite some inner voice trying hoarsely to yell otherwise, Chris accepted the offer and Allan raised no objections to it.

The next day, Allan drops Chris off at Charles' house, promising to pick him up in the morning with his new books. That afternoon and evening after dinner, Chris happily busies himself picking out a collection of 50 or so novels he is already excited to read, while Charles potters about the house. Come bedtime, the mood changes.

Charles now dressed in a robe, asks Chris to come into his bedroom to talk with him, and Chris goes along reluctantly but with a slowly growing sense of dread. Charles closes the door behind them and hops on the bed, motioning for Chris to sit next to him. The conversation is brief, and before Chris realises what is going on, Charles has removed his robe and is sitting there naked on the bed, reaching forward to take Chris' pyjamas off as well, and trying to kiss him.

Finally, after trying to exert control for almost three weeks now, something deep inside Chris, motivated by self-preservation and the refusal to be victimised any longer, bursts forth and takes over. Chris wrenches himself free of Charles, and runs for the door. Flinging it open he runs for the guest room he is meant to be sleeping in, slamming and then locking the door behind him.

Grabbing a quilt and pillow, Chris hides under the bed and blocks out the sound of Charles banging on the door and yelling; as he succumbs to sleep not long after, shock having likely taken over by then, all he can remember thinking is, “What if he doesn't let me keep the books now?”.

The next morning, Chris is awoken to Charles knocking on the door and telling him his father was there to pick him up. After he dresses and cautiously emerges, Charles is back to normal ‘good boyfriend mode' with Allan, and the books he had selected the day before are sitting in boxes by the door, waiting for Chris to take home, the ruse still just barely intact.

Allan can tell something is wrong though, Chris has completely shut down emotionally, verbally, and refuses to say anything to his father on the car ride home. Chris only sees Charles one more time after that day – a few days later, when he comes by to pick up some stuff of his at their family home. He and Allan have broken up, Chris doesn't ask his father about it, and his father says little if anything to him about it either.

A day later Chris' mother returns home from overseas, and the emotional whirlwind of his family's break-up soon reasserts itself in his life, as his parents proceed with their divorce. With no-one he trusts enough to tell, and just subconsciously glad it is all over at that point, Chris quickly internalises it all, and life goes on.

SYDNEY, SUMMER OF 2001, a small apartment in the inner city.

At 19, Chris has finally decided to confront his father about what happened five years earlier with Charles. Chris decides to tell him for the first time, presuming he still doesn't really know. To his amazement, his father's response is, “I knew at the time, but I didn't know what to do”. Allan goes on to explain that he suspected what might have been happening in the days and weeks leading up to that overnight stay with Charles, but claimed he wasn't sure and didn't know how to confront Charles, or what to do about it.

Allan tells Chris he only became sure after that overnight stay and the sudden change in his son's behaviour in the days after, and that when he was sure Charles was more interested in Chris than himself as he put it, he dumped Charles on the spot, he tells Chris now. This isn't much relief to Chris, who is now trying to process the concept for the first time that his father had let this happen to him.

Chris doesn't end up going into much detail with Allan that day about what happened to him, nor does he reveal exactly how long it had gone on for – the shock from his father's initial response has sent his psyche back into survival mode, and he won't speak of it again for many years to come.

That day, the last he ever spoke of it with Allan, he asks his father to remind him what Charles' name was, having already blocked it out by that point. Allan tells him, but in the years to come, it is lost again. It was just not something he wanted to remember, not intentionally but sub-consciously, he didn't want the name in his head.


It is now just almost one year since his father Allan passed away. It is only recently that for the first time in his life, Chris contemplates going to the police and formally reporting the sexual assault on him as a teen. He is not sure why it never occurred to him to do so years earlier, beginning to blame himself anew as he realises he likely was not the first, nor the last, young person that Charles had victimised over the years.

If only he could remember Charles' name. Try as he might though, he cannot. It has been lost from his memory years earlier, and the only person he knows who could easily tell him, his father Allan, is now deceased. Chris' memory can no longer be jogged on the name of the monster who assaulted him all those years ago.

After struggling with the torment of the memories for around a year or more, Chris finally asks for help, and is referred to SAMSSA for counselling. There he is finally able to make peace with himself and, in part, with his father, thanks to the professional help he receives. But they advise him, without a name, or other pertinent details to report to the police, there may be little more, if anything, he can do.


At the age of 34, around eight months ago now, Chris finally told his mother for the first time about this experience early in his life. This is the first his mother has ever heard of any of it, and she is initially heartbroken and devastated to know Chris has carried the experience with him for so long in silence.

His mother goes on to reveal something Chris never knew until then – his father was sexually assaulted over a period of many years as an older teen, starting with an older relative when he was in high school. It also occurred at a boarding house when he was 16, and at a Christian conference he attended when he was 17, by some of the male church elders who ran the college.

Not only had Allan known what Chris had gone through from his own experience, Chris finally realises this goes some way to explaining why his father had been so hesitant or afraid to act when he first suspected Charles of assaulting him.

Likely not wanting to believe that could possibly be occurring to his son, and afraid to confront the truth due to his own pain and suffering as a teen, Allan unfortunately ended up an unwitting bystander to his own son's torment, frozen into inaction until it was too late. Why Allan never went to the police himself or encouraged Chris to later on, is a question that will now never be answered.

Chris has finally realised though, after years of blaming his father, that Allan never intentionally failed to act to protect his son. He was ultimately almost as much of a victim in it all as Chris was. Finally, Chris is able to start to forgive his father for his role in it all, and start to really heal properly himself.

IT MIGHT be too late now for me to go to the police and have the perpetrator prosecuted, and I certainly can't go back in time and tell myself not to forget the name of the person. What I can do though, is write about it as I have done here, tell my story, and tell others to not make the mistake I did in staying silent for so long.

If you have been assaulted, find someone you trust or contact a professional service, and ask for help. That act of reaching out is almost as difficult as the crime itself, but keeping it locked up inside yourself only does much more damage in the long run. It certainly has to me. I live with the regret of knowing I can't ever report the man who did this to me, a regret I will have to the end of my days. I do take some solace though from the hope that if this piece helps even one other person out there who is struggling themselves, then that is at least some good that might come from it.

I wrote this piece in the third-person, as it was the easiest way for my brain to get this story written, without it tearing me apart as I wrote it. In many ways I think I have disconnected somewhat in my head, from the me that this happened to, to the me I am now, as a way of coping with the pain and trauma of it.

I can talk about it now without it tearing me up because I believe I have been able to disconnect from the raw emotions of it. It's not that I don't still feel the emotions, it's just that I have learned how to mute them enough to function again, a process all survivors have to go through.

If something has happened to you, don't sit in silence, professional counselling can really help and there is a dearth of services across the country setup to help survivors like me.

If you or anyone you know is affected by sexual assault, please contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or go to– or for Adults surviving abuse as a child you can also contact BlueKnot on 1300 657 380 or go to




Childhood sexual abuse: ‘If you would see true courage, look at the survivors'

Dr Chris Hogan reflects on the impact of childhood sexual abuse for White Balloon Day.

by Dr Chris Hogan

One of my ethics teachers had strong views that stuck with me. ‘Evil hides wherever you do not look for it,' he said.

True to this dictum, most of the people who have abused children I have met in my work as a long-time GP were hiding in the open. They were often pillars of society and very good with children. They wanted to be so respectable that everyone would doubt that they were capable of such things.

The concept of ‘stranger danger' is so off the mark, in my experience.

People who abuse children are rarely strangers. More often, they are members of a family or very well known to the family whose trust they betray. They tend not to use aggression – initially, at least. They instead rely on a variety of cruel strategies and nasty tricks, playing on the power imbalance between adult and child.

For my fellow GPs: if you see a child whose school performance has suddenly deteriorated or who suddenly become indiscriminately aggressive or who acts in an overly sexualised manner or who suddenly becomes self-harming or excessively hygienic or excessively unkempt, find out why.

Do not put their problems in the ‘too hard' basket. Look, listen and offer assistance. Seek advice.  Refer to appropriate local services.

Most of all, if a child reveals anything that sounds like inappropriate behaviour from an adult or post-pubertal teen – seek urgent advice. Do not ignore it. You may have detected a paedophile's actions. Acting now may not only save the child in front of you but so many more other victims.

Childhood sexual abuse is not rare. For 70 years, surveys have indicated that 10% of people report an unwanted sexual experience from an older person before the age of 13 years.

But many people do not speak out about it until later in life, if at all.

Many times, I have had adult patients come to me with recurrent trivial issues provoking huge anxiety, or sexual dysfunction. They may be overprotective of their children, or have a resistance to bringing children into the world. They may have chronic non-specific pain, insomnia or drug dependency.

Whenever a patient like this comes to me, I know something else may be at work.

I listen and wait, support and offer what I can: comfort, simple suggestions and structure. I have learnt to wait for the time when they trust me enough. When I judge that the time is right, I ask something like: ‘Is there anything old or new bothering you? Something that you have not yet mentioned?'

It is so important to make space for people to come forward, if they want to.

I've seen what can happen otherwise.

Growing up, I saw too many die before 30 from drug overdose, single-vehicle collisions and suicide. I did not know why they died then, but I do now.

And now, I see too many whose personalities are damaged, who suffer from what looks precisely like post-traumatic stress disorder.

I see isolated people who find it all but impossible to maintain a close relationship or a steady job. But they survive.

If you would see true courage, look at the survivors. Every day is a victory.