The current public hearing into child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Ballarat has revealed widespread and appalling abuse of minors.
The Commission heard evidence that all male teachers and chaplains at St Alipius Primary School molested children during 1971. Abuse survivors said the suicide rate in Ballarat is ‘through the roof’ in part due to the legacy of child abuse in the region. Victoria Police estimate that at least 40 victims of clerical sexual abuse in Ballarat have committed suicide.
The Uniting Church acknowledges the tremendous suffering and trauma done to abuse victims and has produced resources to support survivors and their families on the synod website.
A list of counselling services in Victoria and Tasmania for abuse survivors and their families is available on the website. The Bethel Pastoral Centre is an independent service offered by the Uniting Church to provide confidential counselling and support for people who have experienced abuse.
The public hearings have prompted more people to come forward and share their stories. The Church encourages anyone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse in an institutional setting to tell their story to the Royal Commission. The synod website has information on how to handle and report disclosures of abuses.
Another helpful resource for survivors of abuse is Monique Lisbon’s Fragments of Home: Piecing Life Together after Childhood Sexual Abuse. The book charts Ms Lisbon’s journey from survival to healing after being abused by a trusted caregiver. Through a series of candid vignettes, poetry, spiritual reflections and a music CD, Ms Libson grapples with the theme of finding hope amidst the darkness. Copies of the book can be purchased here.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Image: Justice Peter McClellan at a Royal Commission hearing