“Hey Dad actor accused of sexual abuse” blog comment

I posted this comment this morning on the blog http://www.mamamia.com.au/weblog/2010/03/hey-dad-actor-accused-of-sexual-abuse.html#comments

It relates to a case where allegations of molestation have been made by prior child actress on the set of “Hey Dad”. It would appear to be another case where speaking out against abuse, disclosing it gives others permission to do the same.

Dr. Cathy Kezelman, chairperson ASCA (Adults Surviving Child Abuse) says:

I cannot comment on the specifics of this case but wish to make more general comments.

The facts are that childhood abuse and child sexual abuse are pervasive practices in our society and in all societies and have been through time. Substantiated child abuse and neglect figures continue unabated and are estimated to be at least 5 times official figures. As a result there are by conservative estimates more than 2 million Australian survivors of child abuse.

Collectively we have sought to deny that abuse occurs, certainly on the scale on which it does occur. We have also sought to deny that it happens in homes, families, institutions and in the majority of cases, estimated to be 96%, the perpetrator is known to the child. Most often it is a person in a position of trust, a primary care-giver or someone in a position of power or authority.

Abuse thrives on secrecy and silencing. The child typically is terrified and confused and takes on an inappropriate sense of shame, guilt and self blame. Other fears and threats may contribute to the lack of disclosure and it is not unusual for others to be complicit in keeping the secret.

There has historically been a powerful stigma and taboo around abuse and few people have wanted to think or talk about it. This has contributed to the ongoing silencing of victims. It takes a lot of courage for survivors, either child or adult to speak out especially in a society which often seeks to deny their reality and blame and ostracise them. Studies show that children rarely make false accusations of abuse est. 1-3%

The main issue is that when people do disclose that they are listened to and heard and supported empathically. Betrayed as children survivors struggle to trust and feel safe. It is also important for survivors to not try and deal with these issues in isolation but seek support from friends, family and/or professionally.

As more victims speak out, others will follow. We have seen this happen with abuse within the Church, most recently the Catholic Church. More and more vicitms are coming forward gaining the courage to speak out.

Those disclosing need support and understanding. Receiving it can make all the difference to their health and wellbeing. To find out more go to http://www.asca.org.au or call 1300 657 380