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no more the SILENCE

Have a good look at this photo …

Now have a good look at this photo …

Look at the degradation and pain in the second photo. You are looking at the same person and at what the legacies of childhood sexual abuse do to a person over the course of a lifetime.

Those photos happen to be of me … but they could just as easily be the photos of many other men and women who have done their best to survive what was done to them as children.

Society, and that includes some, though not all of you, are not in the least interested in hearing what the lives of some of us Survivors (male or female) of childhood sexual abuse have been like.

There are decent people out there and none of the following applies to you. The following applies to the majority of the rest of you.

You seem to think that just because there was a Royal Commission and just because there was a public Parliamentary Apology that, just like magic, all is good for us and all is fine for us. Well here is a rough shaft to your way of thinking – such patronising bullshit makes no difference, and makes no change to what we deal with on a daily basis at all.

As the author of JAGGED on AIMN, and I consider myself blessed to be given the opportunity to speak about my own story on AIMN, I am careful in the publication of that Book to keep my Survivor Anger well in the background. In that Book I simply seek to show the truth of the life I have led.

But separate to JAGGED – I am appalled at how this society that you are part of treats Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. You seem to think that the existence of a flawed Redress Scheme rights all ills. You seem to think that our access to a civil litigation system delivers to us justice and fair recompense for our lived trauma. Your thinking on such matters is nothing short of delusional.

Do you realise that when we approach the legal system for justice we are torn apart by the system’s need for us to prove the veracity of our claims. We are torn apart, in some cases, by ambulance chaser type tort lawyers whose only interest is the quick prosecution of multiple claims to early Settlement. We are torn apart by institutions such as Churches who gave no thought to our welfare as children and who give not a shit for our adult selves when we seek a just hearing from them. Such matters constitute a form of torture.

so no more the SILENCE …

Here in the era of COVID-19 our social media and media airwaves are swamped by people who feel grandly hard done by because they have had to endure a couple of weeks of isolation. Seriously? How about you try the life of isolation that many of us Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have lived over multiple decades. For many of us Survivors we don’t get to eventually come out of our enforced isolation, for the majority of the complaining you the end is always only a couple of weeks away.

For many of us Survivors the enforced isolation proved too much and many of us ended up killing ourselves.

As a society, you are used to us Survivors speaking with a quiet and forelock-tugging voice. I’ll be buggered if I’ll use that sort of voice to represent myself anymore, and I encourage other Survivors of childhood sexual abuse to speak up harshly and loud and cut through the apathy and indifference with which the society that we are part of treats us.

We do want to be fully heard, even by people in our society who say ‘oh, I don’t waste my precious time acknowledging hard things or letting brutal truth impinge upon my wonderful protected lifestyle’. And we do also want real justice, and not the form of pretense justice that society in all its false-gushiness has deigned to send our way.

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9 comments

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  1. Carina McNaughton

    Thank you Keith for cutting through the bullshit about societies treatment of childhood sexual abuse.
    I have no words for the abuse and ordeal you suffered and continue to live.

  2. Keitha Granville

    I feel helpless to help, I would walk over hot coals to help if I could. What can we, the ones who are reading and listening, do to help?

  3. Keith Davis

    Hi Keitha Granville … you ask a good question and it deserves a thought out answer … so … here’s what I think on the days when my mind comes up for some clear air.

    I can only speak from a Survivor point of view.

    It is my deeply held belief that Survivors must advocate on their own behalf … it starts there. As difficult as it is, and for many Survivors because of depression and PTSD and the living of isolated lifestyles, it is extremely difficult, we have to start to raise the level of our own collective voice.

    One part of me understands that many Survivors, just as I do, live within very closed and constrained worlds … so we are never likely as a group to get out there en masse and organise rallies or Marches on Parliament etc in order to try and raise a focus on the issues we face in the legal or redress systems, or on how we want to be treated differently by the institutions who harboured our abuse perpetrators.

    Our very condition (legacies carried etc) precludes us in the main from getting out there and representing ourselves. But a way has to be found.

    Advocacy on one’s own behalf or on behalf of a group of Survivors is not easy. There are advocacy groups out there like ‘knowmore’ who make an effort, and where information can be shared, and whose efforts are greatly appreciated, but in the end we have to do it for ourselves. Personally I find it very frustrating that now and then I can write about these things, but I cannot yet get up in public and speak about these things without breaking down emotionally. In the end though we are going to have to get up there in public and speak on our own behalf if we truly wish to be heard.

    I’ve had to think deeply about these things. I’m aware that anger can just become a useless circular thing, and that it is more important to focus on what positive steps can come out of that anger … so … I have recently made the effort to get in contact with two other Survivors and we are starting to provide, even at a great distance, on-ground support for each other. We speak the same language, live similar lives, and are establishing closed-world connections and mutual support. It is a start.

    Someone once said to me ‘the telling of your story is important, then what follows on from the telling of your story defines you’. I hope that advocacy for others follows on from the telling of my own story.

    As for what non-Survivors can do … I recommend raising issues such as the adversarial way Survivors are treated in the legal system, and the tardiness of the watered down Redress Scheme and the fact that it does not include Survivors who were abused in their own home, with your elected representatives at both the state and federal level. That can be done via email, phone, or letter. Again, that is a start.

  4. Baby Jewels

    I’m with Keitha. We need to have a plan, because we have a need to help in some way.

  5. John Hanna

    Hell Keith,
    While hibernating and waiting for the covid to subside I watched a Netflix series called The Keepers. It centres on a Catholic high school in the 1960/70 period when some girls were attending a new high school. It turns out the school “Chaplain” was an abuser well known to the church who had been shifted between parishes when he became an embarrassment to the establishment in order to protect the edifice of the church. What stunned me about this was that a nun was murdered by someone on the occasion she was going to spill the beans. No one has been brought to justice because of collusion between police, church legal people and politicians. The point is that all of this was happening here in Aus at the same time as though there was an evil fog that had descended accross the world simultaneously creating an environment for institutional abuse. I remember many jokes about priests (Dave Allen) and from other sources that have been proven to be largely true.
    The point I am trying to make is that we were kinda aware of the stuff that was going on but for some societal reason it was never spoken about or condemned as it should have been, and even now the plan appears to be to outlast the survivors so the institutions can proceed as before as political and legal influencers through their corrupt organisations. It staggers me as an atheist to see these people still purport to be upholders of moral values.
    Without knowing your circumstances you can be assured of my support in any endeavour to address these issues, but like you I am not a great orator and can only support through the written word. I doubt I will ever understand what it is that drives a person to take advantage of the innocence of a child for their own gratification, in tribal times when communities were better connected I am confident that justice was deliverd swiftly and harshly.

  6. leefe

    This is one of those truths that the vast majority of people do not want to hear.

    In many spaces I’ve given up trying to talk about, and advocate for victims of, abuse. When the most egregious cases come to light people are full of righteous anger against the perpetrators and rave about “suitable” redress (usually extreme physical violence), but as soon as you try to get them to truly listen to the victims, and do something that will genuinely help, they switch off. It’s “too hard”.
    Fuck that. Hard is living with it. Nothing you can do to the people who hurt someone will make the sufferer’s life one iota easier. All it does is create more pain and release a little of your own fear and anger.

    Listen. Believe. Trust. They are the first and hardest steps. Then we can start to do something.

  7. Keith Davis

    leefe and John Hanna … your very words constitute support … and I am sure that any other Survivor reading them would see it that way too!

  8. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. from left field ….. start with cutting government funding to all institutions having staff convicted of child abuse, especially the private school system for grooming kids. Then demand that churches pay taxes because they have too frequently forgotten that parishioners are NOT prey for their sexual gratification. Only a small step, but a necessary one.

  9. Jack Cade

    New England Cocky

    Your suggestions are what John Cleese called ‘the bleedin’ obvious.’
    Churches are corporate entities. Everything about them is geared to the acquisition of property and wealth. They have, historically, been pillars of support for oppressive regimes, from the Middle Ages to modern times. The Roman Catholic Church supported Mussolini and Hitler, and aided and abetted the escape of Nazis to German enclaves in Argentina and elsewhere in the Americas. They supported Pinochet, etc.
    The one thing they don’t do is help the poor. Whenever there is an outspoken RC priest who campaigns for his flock, he is silenced.
    The sainted Mother Theresa spent. Very little of the billions of dollars she collected by Jetsetting around the world under a halo actually went on getting medicine for the poor other than Panadol. She said that their suffering ENNOBLED them! Vile. And she’s idolised (abd idealised) when she was little more than a serial killer.

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