A war rages and somehow I find myself feeling uneasy in response to this polarising battle.
After having read numerous victim impact statements of those abused at the hands of the church, my deepest sympathies are with those affected and their families.
Not for a minute is what I am about to say to detract from the atrocities these victims have endured.
My fear is that whilst we continue to narrow our focus to this particular part of the investigation, we overlook the rampant and non-specific nature of child sexual abuse within our society.
There are those that would argue that the intensity behind such focus on the church stems from the hypocrisy of abuse within a doctrine that prides itself on faith and trust. I believe that it is fair to say that nearly every child who is sexually abused has fallen victim to someone they have trusted.
Sexual abuse is not privy to catholic churches, educational facilities, socio-demographics, religious or sporting groups. It is carried out within the walls of houses and institutions all over this country; in every neighborhood.
As much as I am in full support of the victims of the church in their fight for justice, I think this could be a great opportunity to open the door on discussions around sexual abuse under any guise.
As a child protection worker many years ago, I was sent home with a large folder that I was encouraged to read. This folder contained interviews with many peadophiles who had been charged and convicted.
They discussed, at great length, their selection and grooming process and the intricate planning that lead them to carry out acts of abuse. As uncomfortable as it was reading these documents, it was also incredibly insightful. Access to children was what these criminals had, and they would go to any lengths to get it.
There are thousands of girls and boys who are sexually abused in Australia each year. At last check it was one in three girls and one in eight boys. Frightening when you think about a classroom of 30 girls and make the somewhat accurate assumption that 10 of them have been sexually abused!
With all the hype around Cardinall Pell and the royal commission, as necessary as it is, there is one thing that is leaping off the pages at me; victims are stating that for the first time they are feeling heard.
Is this not then the time to be encouraging all victims of abuse to step forward and be given a platform upon which to feel heard?
- To read how Tim Minchin helped send sexual abuse survivors to Rome to hear what Cardinal Pell has to say, click here.